Ticks are minute parasites that are related to spiders. If you ever have the opportunity to examine one under a microscope, you will see that they are not appealing to look at! What’s more, they have the unpleasant habit of feeding on the blood of animals, including your pets. Fortunately, they can’t fly, but they make up for this by employing something called “questing” behavior. They climb up vegetation and use their front legs to latch on to any animal passing by – a deer, your dog (or you!). A tick’s saliva has an anesthetizing effect – a tick bite may not even cause your dog to scratch. This means that you won’t even know that your dog has been bitten, so tick protection is essential.
Why Are Ticks Hazardous to My Dog?
Ticks carry various diseases, including Canine Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, and Ehrlichiosis, and Lyme Disease, which can be transmitted to your dog through just one bite. These conditions cause a range of symptoms, e.g., fever, appetite loss, swollen joints, lameness, and swollen lymph nodes. If the affected animal is not treated, serious health problems can arise. Symptoms of tick-borne disease may not show up for up to three weeks or more following a tick bite, so keep an eye on your dog for behavioral changes.
- What About Cats? Tick-borne diseases that affect cats are far less common, but ticks can cause Babesiosis, Cytauxzoonosis, Ehrlichiosis, Tularemia, and Lyme Disease.
Tick Protection for My Dog – What Can I Do?
You should do everything possible to keep your canine friend healthy and happy, including taking preventative steps against tick-borne diseases. These conditions are challenging to treat, so it’s in your and your dog’s best interest to pay attention to tick protection. Providing your pet with protection from parasites should never be optional. Here are some steps to take:
- Check Your Dog for Ticks – Give your dog a good going over to look for ticks. This should ideally be a daily routine, especially after your dog has been outdoors. If you find a tick, remove it immediately. Several tick removal devices are available, but fine-tipped tweezers work very well. For a handy diagram showing where to check your dog for ticks, click here.
- Pay Attention to Your Yard – You can apply pesticides to your yard, but be sure whatever you use is safe for your pets and be certain to follow the instructions. Some landscaping techniques can also help reduce tick populations in the area around your home, including:
– Mowing your lawn frequently.
– Removing leaf litter.
– Clearing away tall grasses and brush.
– Creating a 3-ft wide barrier of gravel or wood chips between wooded areas and lawns.
– Constructing fences to keep unwelcome animals (deer, raccoons, stray dogs) from entering your property.
- Talk to Your Vet – Contact your veterinarian for information and advice on effective parasite protection that is suitable for your pet. There are no vaccines for the majority of tick-borne diseases that dogs can get. However, there are tick protection products available that you can use, but please consult your vet first.
- Important: Cats are highly sensitive to many chemicals. Never apply any tick protection products to your cat without first consulting your veterinarian.
Tick protection is crucial. And, so is a place to go to in any kind of pet emergency situation. CVETS emergency vet and surgery center in Columbia, SC, is state-of-the-art, so don’t hesitate to bring your pet to us.