Finally, a reason to be thankful for the bitter cold we’ve experienced this winter! Unlike previous winters that have been relatively mild (and have led to an extremely heavy tick season), those bone-chilling days should have helped to bring the tick population back to normal levels.
While the biting cold does help to kill off some of the ticks, most ticks find insulation below the snow and fallen leaves and wait for the first warm day of the year to reappear. A warm, moist spring can also help ticks make up for lost time after a cold winter. We won’t know until late spring as to how bad the 2018 tick season will be.
As humans, there’s not much we can do to prevent the spread of tick-borne diseases, like lyme disease, other than performing a tick check after walking through tall grass or hiking. Luckily for our furry friends who love to lounge, roll and play in conditions conducive to tick exposure – there are more preventative measures we can take to protect them.
If your pet does not take a monthly flea & tick preventative, it is important you start them on one now. This medicine comes in oral or topical forms, and helps keep ticks from latching on. Preventative medicine should be given to any pet who spends time outdoors, including cats, and should be paired with daily tick checks to keep tick bites from becoming a medical emergency. There is also a lyme disease vaccine available for dogs to further help prevent your dog from getting the disease.
Ticks can bring your pets other diseases as well, including Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis and tick paralysis. Never remove a tick with your fingers – it’s not only ineffective, the squeezing may further inject infectious material. Using a pair of tweezers is the most common and effective way to remove a tick. Use fine-point tweezers to avoid tearing the tick and spreading possible infections into the bite area. Spread your pet’s fur, then grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Very gently, pull straight upward, in a slow, steady motion. This will prevent the tick’s mouth from breaking off and remaining embedded in the skin.
Another option is using a tick removal hook, like the Tick Twister or the Tick Stick. Simply put the prongs on either side of the tick and twist upward. After you’ve removed the tick, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly, clean the bite site with rubbing alcohol, and rinse the tool with disinfectant.
This month, we are offering 10% off on all lyme disease tests and vaccines at any of our Animal Health Center clinics. Call us or stop by today!