Tick Prevention for Pets of St. Paul
Ticks are becoming a growing concern in not only St. Paul, but the country. Our dogs are at a greater risk of tick bites, then our feline friends. This is because cats are very sensitive and will often feel a tick the moment it touches their skin, and remove it immediately (however, tick prevention is still ideal). Dogs, on the other hand, are a bit less meticulous. They romp around outdoors with not a care in the world — which is what we love about them! Yet, due to their carefree attitudes, they require more care from us. Learn how to protect your dog from tick bites with our animal hospital’s tick protection tips.
What Are Ticks & Why Are They Dangerous?
Ticks are arachnids (yes, like spiders) that have a very restrictive diet: blood. When they come across a host, they will find a place on the body to attach (usually close to the head, neck, ears, or feet). The bite itself is not a cause for too much concern — it’s the diseases they transfer that raise alarm.
These could include:
- Lyme disease – a bacterial infection that causes symptoms such as depression, loss of appetite, fever, swollen, painful joints, and kidney failure.
- Ehrlichiosis – a bacterial infection that causes fever, poor appetite, low blood platelets (the cells that control blood clotting), nose bleeds, bruising, and even anemia.
- Anaplasmosis – a bacterial infection that causes similar symptoms to Lyme disease in addition to low blood platelets.
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever – a disease that causes fever, poor appetite, swollen lymph nodes, and joint pain. In some cases, neurological symptoms, such as incoordination can occur.
How to Protect Your Pet (and Yourself) from Ticks
In order to stay safe from these diseases that can affect both your pet and your family, it’s important to know how to avoid ticks, prevent their bites, and proper removal of them, too.
- Steer clear of tall grass and thick brush, where ticks like to lie in wait for a passing victim.
- Always check your pet (and yourself) for ticks after being outdoors. Pay special attention to the areas in and around your pet’s ears, head, neck, and feet — even around their toes!
- Ensure your pet has current tick preventatives. These medications can kill ticks that do bite your pet, and even prevent bites altogether.
- Create a tick-safe area in your yard by clearing tall grass and brush, removing yard debris like leaf litter, mowing the lawn frequently, discouraging wild animals with a fence, and/or placing a barrier or wood chips or gravel between your lawn and wooded areas to restrict tick movement into your yard.
If you do find a tick on your pet, take these steps to safely remove it.
- Put on latex or rubber gloves to prevent direct contact with the tick and get a screw-top jar to put the tick into after removal. This allows you to bring it to the vet for identification.
- Use a pair of tweezers to grasp the tick as close to your pet’s skin as possible. Do not grab it from the top, over the tick’s body; this could crush the body of the tick, meaning its fluids could leak into your pet’s bite wound.
- Once you have a firm grasp of the tick, pull straight upwards with steady pressure. Do not jerk or twist the tick — this could cause the mouth parts to detach and remain in your pet’s body.
- Disinfect the bite area and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after removing your gloves. Don’t forget to sterilize the tweezers, too!
- Monitor the bite site for any signs of infection and bring your pet to the veterinarian (as well as the jarred tick) if you notice any changes in your pet’s behavior or health.
Interested in more information about tick prevention? Contact us today at (651) 789-0099!