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Ticks and Your Pet's HealthWell, it’s that time of year. The weather is nice and everyone, including our pets, want to be outside to enjoy the summer festivities. Just like we take precautions when going outside, we need to make sure to take care of possible issues for our pets as well. One of the things that your pet can easily encounter during the times they are adventuring outside is a tick.  Learn a little bit about ticks and your pet’s health in the information below.

Ticks can cause serious pet health issues, so it’s important to pay attention to our pets and make sure that they have any ticks taken care of quickly. You don’t want to end up with bigger problems later on. The best method is prevention, but sometimes things can happen.

Tick prevention tips:

– Treat for ticks all year.

Instead of just focusing on the summer months, it’s a good idea to treat for them the whole year, especially in our region since our temperatures remain above freezing for most of the winter months. Although ticks are more common in the summer months, some can also survive indoors during the winter. This is the main reason to give your pet preventatives during the entire year. You never know when one could be lurking somewhere in your house. Check with our team at Longview Animal Hospital on recommendations for the best preventative for your pet.

If you have more than one pet, you need to treat them all at the same time. This will help prevent cross infestation and keep all your pets safe from ticks.

– Do not use old or expired tick preventatives.

It may be tempting to use up old tick products, but just as with other medications, it’s important not to do so because they can lose effectiveness. It’s not worth the risk and there may also be better products that have come out in the market since you bought that treatment, so you should always double check if you have any questions.

– Only use products specific to your type of pet.

It’s important that you only use products that are specific to your kind of pet. This is especially important when talking about cats. There is an ingredient in some preventatives that are specific to dogs that is toxic to cats. It can cause a severe reaction to your feline, so you really need to use preventative that is specific to a cat instead.

– Check for ticks regularly.

It’s especially important that you check for ticks on both yourself and on your pets when you’ve been in areas that may have ticks. Once you’re inside, inspect your pet’s armpits, skin and ears as soon as possible.

– Keep your yard cleaned up.

Ticks like longer grass, so make sure to mow your lawn on a regular basis. They also prefer moist, warm and shady areas that have organic debris. By simply raking your clippings, leaves and brush, ticks will have fewer places to hide as well as breed.

– Visit your veterinarian regularly.

During our normal wellness exams, we will look for any signs of parasite issues with your pet. This is an important appointment to keep to make sure your pet is healthy.

What to do if your pet gets a tick:

– Remove a tick immediately.

You need to remove the tick right away. Hopefully you will be able to find it before it has attached and imbedded too far into the skin. Make sure to put on gloves to protect yourself from infectious agents that a tick could be carrying.

Next, while keeping your pet calm, use a tweezers to grab the tick as close to your pet’s skin as possible, while being careful not to pinch your pet’s skin. Pull the tick out with a straight motion to get all of it out of the skin. If any part of the tick is left in your pet, you may want to contact your veterinarian. After removal, disinfect the bite site with antiseptic spray or wipes.  

NOTE: For some of the smaller ticks, there are specialized tweezers you can use as well to help make extraction as easy and effective as possible.

Dispose of the tick properly by placing it in a container with rubbing alcohol, or sandwich it within a piece of scotch tape. (When using tape, you can also indicate date and location of where your pet may have picked up the tick.) You should save the tick in the container with a lid just in case your pet begins to show any symptoms of disease.

– Treat the surrounding environment at the same time as your pet.

You should make sure that there are no other ticks or eggs in the surrounding environment. If it was found indoors, make sure to wash all bedding and vacuum sofas and carpets. Once you’re finished, make sure that you empty the vacuum containers as well.

– If your pet seems ill, take them to the vet.

Make sure to watch your pet carefully for a few weeks for different symptoms. If they seem lethargic, have swollen lymph nodes, fever or loss of appetite, contact us for an appointment and let us know that your pet had been bitten by a tick and bring along the specimen removed.  If you have any additional questions about ticks and your pet’s health, please feel free to contact our team at Longview Animal Hospital.