Ticks are arachnids. Yes, that’s right; they share a family tree with spiders and scorpions. These particular pests are parasites, so they’re looking for free room and board — and your pet is flashing the “Vacancy” sign.
Once they latch onto your pet and locate a good feeding spot, the tick “cuts” into the surface of the skin and inserts a feeding tube. Minute barbs on this tube keep the tick firmly in place. Because many tick species have anesthetic properties in their saliva, your cat or dog will not feel anything.
More Than a Pest
Ticks are more than a mere nuisance; they can transmit disease. Most people automatically think Lyme disease, but there are various species of ticks that carry different types of illnesses. One tick can simultaneously carry several diseases. They can carry and transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, and other illnesses.
You don’t want to risk your pet’s health. Symptoms can appear days or weeks after a tick bite. Be on the lookout for signs that your cat or dog has been bitten:
- Fever. Watch your pet for weakness, appetite loss, excessive panting, and shivering.
- Scabs. If a tick is embedded in your pet’s skin, he may lick or chew at the spot. This behavior, and the scabs it creates, may signal a bite.
- Small bumps. If you’re petting Fluffy and notice a small bump, investigate further. Don’t ignore it.
- Head shaking. If your pet suddenly starts shaking his head often, he could have a tick in his ear canal. Remember, ticks love warm, damp areas to hunker down in. Get a flashlight and take a look.
- Tick paralysis. This is frightening: your cat or dog may vomit, drool excessively, exhibit muscle weakness and/or loss of movement and have a fast heart rate, poor appetite, trouble standing still, and poor reflexes. Call your vet immediately.
If you notice these symptoms, look for ticks and bring your pet to the vet for an examination. With prompt treatment, your dog or cat can get back to romping and running.
What If You Find a Tick?
After your pet goes outdoors, take a few minutes to look him over for ticks. Check:
- His ears.
- Around his eyes.
- Between his toes.
- Under his tail.
- In the groin area.
- Under his collar.
If you find a tick:
- Do not use your fingers to remove them!
- Use tweezers. Make sure they have a fine point so you don’t squeeze or tear the tick. Spread your dog’s fur to expose the tick and “grab” it as close to the skin as you can. Slowly and gently, pull straight up.
- Use a tick removal tool. While you’re stocking up on summer supplies, make sure to buy a tick removal tool (e.g. Tick Twister, Ticked Off, etc.). The small, inexpensive pronged-tools remove ticks without squeezing them; this reduces the risk of infection. Simply grasp the tick and twist. (Read the directions on your specific tool.)
What if the “mouthparts” of the tick are still in your pet’s skin? Make an appointment to see Avery Creek Pet Hospital.
- Clean up. Wipe the area with rubbing alcohol, use disinfectant to clean the tool, and wash your hands.
- Dispose of the tick... Flush it down the toilet or use alcohol to kill it.
- … or Keep the tick. If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, save the tick in alcohol and bring it to the vet.
Checking your pet for ticks every day is important; if you remove them within 24 - 36 hours, there is little risk that disease has been transmitted.
Preventing Tick Bites
The best cure is prevention!
- Ask us about effective tick repellent options.
- Check for ticks daily.
- Remove ticks immediately.
- Make your yard inhospitable to ticks. Reduce the risk of bites by removing leaf debris, mowing frequently, removing hiding places like trash and furniture, and using a barrier of gravel or wood chips between your lawn and wooded areas.
Give us a call to learn more about protecting your pets this summer and all year long. Safety is the first step of great adventures!