Protect pets from harmful ticks
Ticks can be a threat to your pet year-round, but as spring and summer find us outside more often, the chances of an encounter increase. These tiny blood-suckers can cause serious problems for pets and people. Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, plague, and bartonellosis are just some of the diseases that fleas and ticks can transmit from animals to humans (zoonotic diseases).
Commonly found in wooded areas, brush, shrubs and wild undergrowth, ticks can not fly or jump, so they must “grab on” to passing animals or humans. Attracted by the scent of their victim, any animal that enters these environments is at risk of becoming a tick’s host. There are many different species of ticks that can affect dogs and cats so proper prevention and care is essential for controlling the harm these creatures can cause.
Clearing your yard of woody or brushy vegetation areas will help to eliminate tick habitats. Ask your vet to suggest environmentally safe products to use. Always check for ticks after walking through any area that could typically be a source for these pests. The head, nose, face, paws, and chest of their victims are some of the favorite first contact points for ticks. Young ticks can be as small as a pin-head before they feed and engorge, so they can be difficult to see. Ticks may appear to be a wart or dark spot on the skin. Their bite may cause an itchy reaction, but generally there is no pain associated with contact. Use bright light and a magnifying glass if necessary to inspect your pet (and yourself). If the spot has 8 legs — it's a tick and needs to be removed as quickly as possible. The bite of one tick can spread several diseases at one time. Use tweezers and rubbing alcohol to grab the tick just behind the head and pull straight out slowly and steadily. Do not use your fingers, as this can increase the risk of disease being spread.
Treatment for Ticks on Pets
To make an informed decision on the best course of treatment, it is important to discuss the available options with your veterinarian. Parasite protection is not “one-size-fits-all.” Age, species, breed, life style and health status of your pet, as well as any medications your pet is receiving are some of the factors which affect the type and dose of the product that can be used. Many are spot-on (topical) products that are applied directly to your pet’s skin, but some are given orally (by mouth).
To keep your pets safe, the AVMA recommends the following:
- Discuss the use of preventive products, including over-the-counter products, with your veterinarian to determine the safest and most effective choice for each pet.
- Always talk to your veterinarian before applying any spot-on products, especially if your dog or cat is very young, old, pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.
- Only purchase EPA-registered pesticides or FDA-approved medicines.
- Read the entire label before you use/apply the product.
- Always follow label directions! Apply or give the product as and when directed. Never apply more or less than the recommended dose.
- Cats are not small dogs. Products labeled for use only for dogs should only be used for dogs, and never for cats. Never.
- Make sure that the weight range listed on the label is correct for your pet because weight matters. Giving a smaller dog a dose designed for a larger dog could harm the pet.
Monitor your pet for any signs of an adverse reaction, including anxiousness, excessive itching or scratching, skin redness or swelling, vomiting, or any abnormal behavior when using tick prevention products. If you see any of these signs, contact your veterinarian. Report these incidents to your veterinarian and the manufacturer of the product so adverse event reports can be filed.
The veterinary professionals at Back on Track are ready to discuss the best plan of action for keeping your pet safe from these parasites. We carry a full line of preventive and treatment options. Set up an appointment so we can partner with you to keep your pets thriving.