Pet owners know their fur babies and can immediately tell when something is off about them. However, figuring out what exactly is sucking the joy out of your pet isn’t as obvious, especially when it’s latched onto their skin underneath all that glorious hair! We’re talking about ticks and how to keep your pet safe from them. Although ticks are small and irritating, they can cause a myriad of diseases in your pet, some of which can be fatal. Here is the lowdown on ticks and how to keep your pet safe from ticks.
There are approximately 899 different species of ticks in the world. They’re divided into two groups – hard ticks and soft ticks. Hard ticks are identified by the hard shield behind the mouthparts and are shaped like an apple seed (when they aren’t fed.) Soft ticks don’t have the hard shell and resemble a raisin. Although all ticks are problematic for your pet, the most common ones you’ll find are hard ticks, more specifically the brown dog tick and the yellow dog tick.
Ticks cling to long grass and shrubbery with their front legs stretched out waiting to grab onto your unsuspecting pet as they pass by. This is called questing. Ticks are a problem year-round, but more so in spring and summer as the high temperatures and moist environments create the ideal climate for ticks to thrive.
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Tick bite fever is a disease known by many pawrents and this can occur when a tick carrying the Babesia parasite bites your pet. The parasite is transmitted to your pet through the tick’s saliva and this causes the red blood cells to burst which drastically drops your pet’s red blood cell count and an urgent blood transfusion may be required. Some ticks can cause deadly tick paralysis or transmit other harmful and potentially fatal diseases to dogs. The mildest consequence of a tick bite is the affected area becoming infected and painful.
Not all ticks carry the tick bite fever parasite, but there are many that do. The incubation period for tick bite fever is 14 days, so if you’ve removed a tick from your pet, keep an eye out for any symptoms over the next two weeks. Tick bite fever symptoms are non-specific, but look out for general unwellness in your pet such as reduced or lack of appetite, lethargy and weakness, nausea, diarrhoea and pale gums (although some dogs have dark gums).
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The question in most pet owners’ minds is – can my pet pass tick bite fever onto me? The answer is no, your pet cannot transmit tick bite fever onto you. However, humans can also get bitten by ticks, but they’re commonly picked up from walking through vegetation and not from our pets. Tick bite fever in humans is caused by another parasite found in ticks’ saliva and is different from the one that causes the disease in animals.
As ticks sit on long grass and shrubbery, when your fur baby comes back from a dash around the park, run your hands through their fur to check if any unwelcomed guests have come back with them. If you’ve found a tick, use tweezers or a tick removal tool, like a tick hook and grab the tick with it, twist it, and then pluck the tick away from the skin. Make sure not to squeeze and/or pop the tick’s body.
Ticks will hop onto your pet whether you like it or not. However, you can prevent them from causing any harm to your fur baby with the right pet care products. A simple monthly treatment like Nexgard Spectra for dogs or Broadline Spot-on for cats is often all you need.
Tick treatment applications come in various, easy-to-use forms like a pour-on topical to treat fur coats, oral treatments for protection from nose to tail, and spot-on treatments should a pesky bite occur. When it comes to pet care and treating your pet for ticks, it is vital that you check with your vet on what could be best suitable for your pet.
While we would do anything for our pets and want them to have the very best in pet toys, pet grooming products, and pet treats, your pet’s health is also super important to keep tabs on. So, while you’re investing in the best dog toys and cat toys to entertain your pet and keep them comfortable and happy, keep in mind to also do routine health checks to keep them in tip top shape as well.