By the time summer arrives, we all want to spend as much time outdoors as possible—and that includes your pets. But, like anything, spending time outdoors can be risky business for your furry companions, especially with the increasing populations of ticks across the US. Ticks are tiny bugs that bite and then latch onto humans or animals. These critters pose potential health risks because they carry and can transmit illnesses to their chosen host. Keep reading for tips on how to prevent these troublesome bugs from doing any harm to your beloved fur friends.
There are numerous species of ticks that can be found in just about any part of North America. Though they’re known to be more prevalent during warmer months and regions, they can be found year round. Ticks are quite resilient and capable of surviving in a range of conditions. Once these creatures have entered a geographical location, their numbers tend to stabilize and even intensify as we’ve seen this last year. Rarely do their numbers drop.
While tick bites generally aren’t painful, the concern is they carry illnesses that can be transmitted to your pet during their feeding process. The most common tick-borne illness that impacts pets is a disease known as Lyme disease (which can affect humans too). Lyme disease in dogs if left untreated can result in joint problems and kidney issues. Symptoms early can include fever, loss of appetite, painful or swollen joins, lack of energy, and swollen glands.
Ticks can also spread other diseases to your pet including anaplasmosis, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and babesiosis. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever has similar symptoms to Lyme disease but also presents with abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea.
Avoiding ticks may not always be possible, but a conscientious care routine for your pet will help you to avoid any health complications. Here are a few key steps you can take:
There are many tick prevention methods to choose from. There are topical sprays, collars, powders and shampoos act that act as tick repellents, preventing ticks from biting and attaching to your dog. There are also oral preventatives which can be far more effective. These products are a great first-line of defense and can be prescribed by your Vetster veterinarian. If you’re unsure which is best for you and your pet, ask a Vetster veterinarian for more insight.
If your pets have spent any amount of time outdoors, be sure to perform a thorough tick check once they’re back inside. The goal here is to catch a tick quickly! Even a tour around the block, or garden should include a quick tick check. Look in their hair and in hard to reach places like in and behind your pet’s ears, belly, neck and legs. One handy tidbit of advice for shorter coated dogs particularly (and people!) is to run a sticky pet hair pick up roller over your pet (and yourself) upon return from your excursion!
The best way to remove a tick is by using tweezers, or tick turner. Grab the tick as close to your pet’s skin as possible. Pull the tick upward, and rotate and remove in a steady motion. The objective here is to remove the entire tick including its mouth parts from your dog. If any part of the tick remains, wash the area thoroughly and contact your Vetster veterinarian for advice. They may suggest a topical or oral antibiotic for treatment.
Stop ticks in their tracks by controlling the environment. That means taking steps like clearing away tall grass and keeping the lawn tidy and trim. When it comes to your indoor space, look out for ticks in cracks or under rugs.
Now that you know how to prevent ticks, you can get back to spending the summer season doing the things you love! If you have any questions concerning pet health, don’t forget: our Vetster veterinarians are available 24/7 and are always happy to help guide pet parents on what to do in the event of something serious.
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