|Spring Has Arrived!|
Spring has arrived, bringing warmer weather, sunshine and those creepy things called ticks. Ticks are transporters of disease and are able to carry more than one at a time. They are second only to mosquitoes as carriers of human disease, both infectious and toxic and they are increasing in number every year.
Found in nearly every part of the world and all fifty states of the U.S, ticks can survive in all kinds of conditions, meaning that a pet has an increased chance of becoming an unknowing host. While ticks and fleas are both pests that can affect pets, there are differences between them. Fleas are insects while ticks are arachnids because they have 8 legs. Also, unlike fleas, ticks cannot “jump” onto their hosts, instead they wait on leaves, grasses or shrubs and climb on when an unsuspecting host brushes against it. Ticks come in different sizes and colors, but their basic anatomy is pretty much the same. They are often noticed in clusters where multiple ticks live and feed close to each other.
Common ticks found in the U.S., include the brown dog, also known as the kennel tick, the lone star, the American dog, the Gulf coast and the black-legged tick. Warmer climates are where ticks are generally a year-round problem because warm and moist climates greatly improve the chances of a tick surviving. With colder weather, most ticks usually die, go into hiding, or become dormant, but not all of them. Adult deer ticks can remain active for as long as the temperature is above freezing. Depending on where pet parents live, it is important to know the kinds of ticks that live in the area and what their main months of activity are.
The key to finding tick activity on a pet is early detection. Signs of a tick activity on a pet include the pet nibbling on specific areas, ear scratching, head shaking, sudden fever, skin rashes, and skin scabs. The good news is that there are plenty of products to help prevent ticks. Treatments that are either in pill form or a spot medication are popular and can keep ticks and other parasites at bay for up to a month. With spot-on medications, instructions need to be read carefully, and a vet should be called before application if there are still any questions. Pill treatments are easy to give and lessens the chance of contact if small children or cats live in the home.
Bathing a pet with a shampoo that contains medicated ingredients will generally kill ticks on contact. While it’s not too much money, it might be more time consuming, since a bath would need to be given every two weeks since the effective ingredients won’t last for too long. Tick collars are another preventative, although they mainly protect a pet’s neck and head. While the collar needs to touch the pet’s skin for the chemicals to get onto the fur and skin, there also needs to be enough room for two fingers to fit under the collar so it isn’t too tight. Any extra length of the collar needs to be cut off to prevent pets from chewing.
Tick preventatives do not only include preventives for the family pet but treating the house and lawn as well. Keeping lawns, bushes, and trees trimmed will help cut back the population of ticks and other parasites in a yard. Fewer places for them to be means fewer parasites to be concerned with. By taking these steps, a pet can enjoy the seasons and have minimal risk of attracting ticks.