Summer Tick Prevention
Summer is here and with the warm weather often comes an invasion of a type of parasite that can spell disaster for the health of your pet. This parasite is the humble tick. It might not look particularly dangerous, but a tick bite can have serious consequences for your furbaby, and even the human members of your household.
Here is what you need to know about ticks, including the best ways to protect your pet from tick bites this summer season.
Many people have heard of ticks, but a surprising number do not understand exactly what these creatures are and how they can potentially harm their pets. Ticks are a form of external parasite. This means that they live outside of your pet’s body, but bite into her skin and feed on her blood to survive. Most ticks start out very small, around the size of a grain of rice, although they can vary in color. However, as they eat, the blood they consume causes their body to swell, making them larger and easier to spot.
Ticks bite into your pet’s skin using special pincer-type teeth that they have. This enables them to attach themselves firmly, so they don’t fall off until they have finished. Their saliva contains toxins that can cause itching, swelling and other allergy symptoms. Some types of tick also have saliva that contains a neurotoxin that triggers paralysis. This condition, known as tick paralysis, can prove fatal if the toxin is able to reach your pet’s respiratory system.
Ticks tend to be found in heavily wooded and grassy areas where they lie in wait for their next meal. They can attach themselves to your pet when she passes by where they will then move across her body until they find somewhere warm and moist buried within her fur. For this reason, it is important to check for ticks every time your pet comes in from outside. Although ticks are more prevalent in some areas than others, they can occur anywhere in the United States and for this reason, preventatives are recommended irrespective of where you live.
Ticks and Disease
Ticks are well known for their disease-carrying capabilities. There are many different types of tick, with certain species being able to transmit different diseases. When the tick feeds on an infected animal, they take some of the infection from the animal’s bloodstream into their own body. When they then bite a new host, they transmit the infection to them. Contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t happen right away. Instead, it can take up to around 72 hours for the disease to be transmitted to the new host.
Ticks are known for spreading a wide variety of different diseases including:
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
They aren’t too fussy about who they will bite, and it isn’t unheard of for humans to be affected.
Fortunately, tick prevention is fairly simple and straightforward. There are various types of preventative available. These include oral medications, topical treatments such as sprays and spot-on products, collars and shampoos. Which is right for your pet will depend on her species, size and age and your vet will be able to make a recommendation for you. Tick preventatives, much like other types, must be administered on a strict schedule for them to be effective. Missing a dose, being late with a dose or your pet not receiving a full dose could leave her vulnerable to being affected by a tick bite.
In addition to properly administered preventatives, it is important to check your pet for ticks on a regular basis. This means daily grooming and going through her coat when she comes in from outside.
If you would like more advice on the best way to protect your pet from ticks this summer, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our experienced veterinary team at All Paws Veterinary Clinic in Algonquin, IL 847-268-4085.