As warmer weather approaches and we begin to spend more time outside with our pets, it’s important to remember common methods for tick prevention and removal and be on the lookout for symptoms of tickborne illness. Dogs and cats are both susceptible to tick bites and related illnesses. A majority of tickborne illnesses have no cure and are impossible to vaccinate for. This is why prevention is key.
There are many different methods for tick prevention that vary based upon animal type, cost, and application frequency. Common repellants, like topical treatments or tick collars, are simple and long-lasting but typically imperfect in their effect. Veterinarians will often pair these options with oral preventatives which, instead of repelling or preventing ticks from biting, kill the ticks after they’ve bitten.
Some methods work better than others for different pets or dog breeds. For example, cats can be extremely sensitive to different chemicals. A pharmaceutical that works perfectly for a larger dog could prove deadly for a cat or smaller dog. It is necessary to talk to your veterinarian about which tick prevention method will work best for your pet.
Check your pet for ticks often, paying special attention to the ears, neck, belly, and back legs.
If you find a tick on your pet, it should be removed as soon as possible. If the tick hasn’t bitten yet and is unattached, it can simply be removed and disposed of (flushing them down the toilet is often the easiest way). However, if the tick has bitten and is attached to your pet, please follow the steps below.
- Use a pair of tweezers to grip the tick as low to their head as possible. The closer you are to the surface of the skin, the more likely you are to remove the tick in one piece.
- Pull upward with steady even pressure. Do NOT twist, as this can tear off the mouth of the tick while it is still attached to the host.
- After the tick has been removed you can clean the bite area and wash your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
- Dispose of the tick. *flush*
If your dog has been exposed to ticks or other parasites and begins showing these symptoms in the following weeks, you should make an appointment with a veterinarian right away to discuss treatment.
- Fever – All tickborne illnesses can cause a fever or chills.
- Aches and Joint Pain – Tickborne diseases can cause fatigue, achy muscles, and other soreness. Joint pain is a common symptom of Lyme disease, one of the most serious tickborne illnesses.
- Rash – Several tickborne illnesses can cause skin around the bite to be uncomfortable or show discoloration.
At the Animal Medical Center of Mid-America (AMCMA), our veterinarians can identify and diagnose Ehrlichia, Lyme, Anaplasma, and other common tickborne diseases with a routine tick screening. Schedule an appointment with a veterinarian today at AMCMA.org to discuss tick prevention and other treatments for your pet.