It’s tick season so here’s some useful information on how you can prevent them latching onto your best friend.
So, how can I prevent ticks on my dog?
Ticks really are vile. They come in at a close second only to Mosquitos as they can spread diseases in animals AND humans. The most serious is Lyme disease which affects the muscles and nerves cells. It can leave animals lame and lethargic, and humans with a debilitating lifelong chronic illness. Unfortunately it’s very hard to diagnose in dogs so its important to do all you can to prevent them from getting ticks. These horrible parasites need a host to feed from and that comes in the form of a cat, hedgehog, dog or even you. Ticks can be dangerous for any dog of any age and breed (although long-haired breeds are probably more susceptible to picking them up).
What are Ticks and how do they find my dog?
Ticks are closely related to spiders and can be found in grassy areas like meadows and fields. However, ticks can be found in woodland and urban areas too so its important to know what to look for when giving your pet the once over after walking in such environments. Ticks come in an assortment of colours but unfed, they are oval, flat and small (imagine a sesame seed with legs). However, they balloon once they’ve had a good feed and grow to the shape and size of a coffee bean. Ticks will will climb to the top of a blade of grass and waiting for an unsuspecting animal brush past. They will then latch on for their ‘all you can eat’ buffet.
How to Prevent them
There are many safe products on the market to aid in the prevention of ticks. These range from spot-on’s to sprays and special collars with built in substances that help infiltrate the fatty layers of your dog’s skin. These products kill ticks when they get a mouthful of the parasitically treated blood. Whichever you chose as your go-to, always follow the manufacturers instructions on how to apply/use.
What to do if I find a tick on my dog?
Importantly, please don’t panic and resist the urge to just pull it straight off. Not only would it be extremely painful for your dog, if pulled out incorrectly, embedded mouth parts can be left behind! Or, if ticks are ‘stressed’ – poked and prodded, burnt with a flame, or, as is commonly done, covered in Vaseline to suffocate them – ticks may regurgitate their bloody meal back into their host along with any disease they’re carrying, thereby increasing the chances of disease transmission. Also, any mouth parts left inside your dog could result in a local tissue reaction, inflammation and infection often requiring antibiotics, or even surgical removal so you may want to speak to your vet about techniques on how to remove them effectively.
To find out more about ticks, how to identify them, prevent or remove them, please contact your vet.
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