Ticks are small, blood-sucking parasites from the same class as spiders. But, the greatest danger ticks pose isn't the loss of blood, but rather the bacteria and diseases they carry to hosts that can cause serious illness and even death.
The most susceptible targets are our pets who spend a significant amount of time outside and are more likely to brush up against vegetation where ticks reside.
Read on for our guide on preventing, recognizing, and treating tick bites in your pets.
How to Recognize a Tick
Adult ticks are only about 3-5mm in length which makes them difficult to spot especially on animals with any kind of fur or hair. Immature ticks are even smaller and can be very hard to spot.
Ticks are especially prevalent during warm summer months. During winter or colder periods, ticks may or may not find shelter and become dormant. So it's important to stay vigilant in searching your pets for tick bites throughout all seasons.
If you do spot a bug on your animal's skin, here are a few ways to tell if it's a tick:
--Ticks have a large, pear-shaped body. As they suck blood that body can become engorged.
--They use a beak-shaped head to attach to the skin, that part is not often visible because it's buried underneath the skin.
--Adult ticks have 8 legs that are usually closer to the front of the body near the head. --Nymph ticks (immature adults) only have 6 legs, also closer to the front of the body.
If you find a parasite matching this description on your pet's skin, it's likely a tick. If it's already attached, you can follow the instructions below to remove it.
How to Remove a Tick
First, you should never remove a tick using your bare hands.
Another widely publicized but incorrect method for removing a tick involves pressing a hot match to the tick at the site where it's attached to the skin. This is both painful for the pet it's attached to, and often ineffective in removing the tick.
The proper way to remove a tick is to use a pair of clean tweezers to grasp the tick as close to its head as possible and slowly pull it away from the skin. It is important that the entire tick is removed and that the head doesn't remain embedded in the skin.
Once you remove the tick you should treat your pet with Dr. Jessy’s approved pet medicines for fleas and ticks. These can help treat the area affected and prevent future bites.
If your pet has several ticks or you're unable to remove it completely, you should contact us at the Bredel Clinic immediately.
How Ticks Can Harm Your Pets
Ticks have a dangerous effect if left untreated and on your pets. The greatest threat they pose is the transmission of bacteria, viruses, and pathogens they carry.
Some of the most common risks are:
Paralysis (caused by a toxin in some female ticks)
Rocky Mountain spotted fever
And many others
The list of tick-borne illnesses is long and growing.
We can't and shouldn't keep our pets from going outside. But if we can limit the amount of time they spend in the deep brush we might prevent them from catching a tick.
One of the best ways to prevent your pet from contracting a tick-borne illness is keep your pet on an approved flea and tick preventative year-round. Even with close inspection of your pet’s skin after walks, you may miss spotting a tick hiding in the hair coat.
Always contact Dr. Jessy if you're concerned that your pet might have ticks or be suffering from a tick-borne illness.