Let's face it, ticks are a real pest. Not only for our pets, but also for us humans. But how do ticks get onto our pets? Well, the first thing that you need to realize is that ticks can't jump. These parasites will crawl up a blade of grass or some other plant and wait for a host to come by. Then, when the animal brushes up against the plant, they quickly grab hold of the host and make themselves at home.
The main season for tick infestation usually comes when temperatures rise. This is when pets tend to spend more time outside, either relaxing in the warmth of the sunshine, going for long walks or playing with their favorite humans or canine companions at the dog park. This is the time of the year where you need to be alert to the risks of being outdoors. There are many bugs and parasites that will bite your pet and make him sick. But by taking a few basic precautions you can minimize these risks.
Ticks Are Trouble
Ticks are attracted not only by the warmer air temperatures but also by motion and the carbon dioxide that we all exhale. Ticks do not jump or fly so they climb up onto something and wait for a suitable host to come by. Then they either drop or grab onto the host. Find a suitable spot where the animal can't get to it. And then digs in to start feeding on the blood of the host.
Depending on the area where you live the tick there can carry different pathogens than ticks in other areas of the country. It is always best to consult with your veterinarian about the ticks in your area and the types of possible diseases that they may transmit. This will allow you to be more prepared.
Ticks are dangerous because when they bite into a host they inject some of their salivae to prevent the blood from coagulating. It is the saliva that carries other parasites found within the tick.
Ticks have very sharp mouths. Usually, when a tick bites you or your pet it will go unnoticed. However, sometimes the bite area will become infected. When this happens you need to seek medical attention right away. Infections from a tick bite are treated oral antibiotics. A topical treatment is not worth it because the parasites from the tick have already entered the bloodstream and spread throughout the host's body.
Dealing With Ticks
There are many ways to deal with ticks. The best one is to always avoid them in the first place. During the prime season, you should avoid walking in the woods. Yards also need to be trimmed and cleared so as to not provide places where ticks might hide.
To get a good handle on the types of ticks in your region you should talk to your veterinarian. This is the person who can advise you on which preventive products are available and best suited for where you live. These products help to control the tick problem but should never be used without consulting with your veterinarian. Some of these products can only be used on adult animals while others are more suited to younger dogs and puppies. The newer drugs that are coming out are more effective in controlling ticks. And one very important point to keep in mind is to not use more than one tick preventative product at a time. They contain highly toxic chemicals that can overwhelm a pet if more than one product is used at a time.
Do not, under any circumstances, spray an insecticidal spray on your pet. These sprays are intended for clothing and/or human use. They contain poisons that can kill your pet within a few minutes. Remember, animals tend to lick their fur and these sprays leave a residue on the surface that they are sprayed on.
Play it safe by always consulting with your veterinarian first. Even if you've used the product before. Remember, your pet is one year older and its metabolism has changed considerably.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that you should never use a product that was intended for one type of animal on another type. Each preventative product is made differently for each type of animal. This is because some types of pets react violently to products made for another type of animal. Tick preventative medications for a dog contain certain chemicals that are almost certain to cause death in a cat and vice versa.
Your Daily Routine
Whenever your pet has spent time outdoors you need to check him very carefully for ticks when he comes in. Even if your pet goes outside twenty times a day you need to check him every time he comes in. Loose ticks in your pet's fur could fall off in the house. They will then find their way to a dark place like between the baseboards. There they will lay their eggs. Now you have a real problem. You will have tick problems all year long since they won't hibernate when they are indoors.
When checking for ticks you need to pay especially close attention to hard-to-reach places. Ticks like to hide in warm areas so be sure to check where there are folds of skin on your pet. Also, check the insides of ears and between the toes. Be vigilant while searching for ticks. Some ticks are so tiny that they are easy to miss.
If you do find a tick on your pet don't touch it. If you accidentally break the abdomen of the tick open you expose yourself to the internal parasites that the tick is carrying. Use tweezers to gently take hold of the tick. Then gently pull the tick off your pet. Don't worry if the head remains in your pet. It will eventually fall out.
Once you have removed the tick you should place it in rubbing alcohol to kill it. Don't flush it down the toilet or a drain. They can crawl through the pipes and return to your home.
Some Tick Facts
The most well-known and probably the most common disease that is transmitted by ticks is Lyme disease. But this is not the only threat from ticks. There are plenty of other pathogens that they can carry.
Ticks are a threat to many different types of animals. Not only do mammals have a high-risk factor, but so do birds and many types of reptiles. Ticks can carry and transmit pathogens that they picked up from another host. So they can spread a number of diseases.
Since pathogens transport themselves through the blood of an infected person or animal a tick will automatically pick up these pathogens when they feed on a host. This is how ticks transmit diseases when they bite other animals or humans.
Just by taking some simple precautions you can help to keep your pet free of ticks throughout the summer. It might seem like a big job, and sometimes it is, but it is our duty as a responsible pet parent.
Always have a yearly talk with your veterinarian about the possible diseases that ticks in your area can transmit. This is the person that can inform you on the best preventative measures for your region.
Just keep in mind that a little prevention can go a long way when preventing ticks.