When you first get a new pet, thinking about the pests that might affect her might not seem like an immediate priority. Nevertheless, parasite control is arguably one of the most important things that you can do to keep your precious furbaby safe from disease. This is because parasitic infections are a leading cause of visits to veterinarians in the U.S. each year and a health problem that can affect the health and potentially even the life of your pet.
Parasites are divided into two categories – internal and external. Internal parasites include things like hookworms and roundworms. External parasites live in the world around us and attach to your pet (or in some cases, you!) when they are ready for their next meal, deriving their nutrition directly from your pet’s blood. Ticks are one type of external parasite that is prevalent in the United States and has the potential to make both animals and humans alike very unwell.
What are ticks?
Ticks are small, spider-like bugs that are usually round or tear-dropped in shape. Most adults are between 1-10mm, but they can get larger when they fill with your pet’s blood. When full, the tick will drop off and head into a safe area of your property or yard to wait until it needs to feed again. Some ticks can survive months or even years without a meal.
When a tick chooses to consume the blood of an infected animal, the infection will pass into the tick where it lays dormant and ready to pass on to the next host. Whatever infectious disease the tick is carrying is not necessarily transmitted at the moment of the bite. In fact, this is very unlikely. Instead, it can take hours or even several days of feeding for enough microorganisms to cause disease to transfer.
Why tick control is important
If you have the chance to protect your pet from painful and debilitating symptoms you would, wouldn’t you? All caring and responsible owners are committed to keeping their pet healthy and happy. By taking the necessary tick control steps, you can minimize the likelihood that your pet will be affected by any tick-borne disease, some of which can be serious or even fatal if not treated quickly enough. You will also be doing your part to help protect animals around you and preventing the disease from reaching epidemic levels.
Some of the different infectious diseases spread by ticks include:
- Lyme Disease
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Tick prevention and control – what you need to know
The most important thing to remember is that ticks and tick-borne diseases are entirely preventable if you use the right combination of treatments and therapies.
There are a range of different products available that can repel ticks and stop them from biting your pet. Many of these are actually combination products that will work against fleas as well as ticks. Some of these include:
- Spot-on treatments
- Oral medications
Our veterinarian at Mobley Veterinary Clinic will be happy to help you find the most suitable type of preventive for your pet.
However, in addition to using preventive treatment on your pet and your home, it is also important to check your pet for ticks as often as possible. In many instances, removing the tick shortly after it attaches can help prevent your pet from contracting the disease.
Ticks are very good at hiding in pet fur, so check your furbaby out carefully, particularly if she has been out for a walk somewhere where ticks are likely to lie in wait – for example a field or a heavily-foliaged yard. Use a brush or comb to groom her at the same time and gently feel for any unusual lumps or bumps with your hand.
If you find a tick on your pet’s body you should remove it as soon as possible. Sterilize a pair of tweezers or use a special tick-removal tool. Grab the tick behind the head and pull firmly but gently. Never yank or twist as this increases the likelihood of a failed removal. Don’t squeeze too hard as this could cause the tick to burst and spread infected blood on to your pet’s skin, or yours! If any parts of the tick remain in your pet, don’t be tempted to dig them out. They will fall out naturally in a few days. Once removed, dispose of the tick in a jar of alcohol. Some owners choose to drown but keep the tick should it be needed in order to identify which tick-borne disease has affected their pet.
Tick control is a crucial part of pet ownership. To find out more, please contact our Vets in Nashville, TN and speak to our veterinary team at Mobley Veterinary Clinic who will be delighted to assist you.