Ticks! They’re coming… okay, not really, and this is not a cheesy horror film script. Nor do ticks come actively chasing after you or your pet. They also never really left. It is warming up now, so those ticks that were in hibernation (yes, they really didn’t die over winter) will be more active in search of blood and making tick babies! Unfortunately, it also means that they can spread diseases such as Lyme, Ehrlichia, or Anaplasmosis. Let’s dispel some myths and talk about how to protect yourselves and your pets.
Remember when I said they ticks won’t chase you? I meant it! Ticks participate in a process called ‘questing’ where they hang out on brush or tall grasses waiting for a ride on a person or animal. So no, they don’t jump like fleas or fall out of trees. Also some of those ticks out there are in their second year of life. The cold weather (even here in the Kingston region) doesn’t kill them – they can find places to hibernate under brush where it can remain slightly humid.
Ticks like warm places, so when you come in from the outdoors, you’ll want to check those crevices on your pets like between toes, skin folds if they have wrinkles, and armpit and groin areas. In the great infographic below from Carrington College, removal of ticks is shown in a step by step process. I do want to add that the tweezers should be a fine tipped, almost to a point, rather than blunt ended tweezers, which may crush the tick’s head causing it to break off. Oh no!! What happens if the tick’s head stays embedded? Simply put, a local skin irritation will occur and the head will fester out eventually, but the possibility of spreading disease is gone. Speaking of disease, signs may not appear for weeks or even months after the tick has bitten.
Another way of removing ticks is with a tool called a ‘tick twister’ which sort of looks like a mini-crowbar. You simply slide the hook between the body of the tick and the bitten victim’s skin, the rotate counter-clockwise while gently pulling. Other than making sure to check your pet (and yourself) for ticks, you can help protect them with a monthly preventative in a topical or oral, chewable form that will kill those ticks before they have a chance to harm your pet. And as a bonus, these products from your veterinarian also kill fleas!
Check out the infographic from Carrington College below for a few more tips and be sure to protect yourselves and your pets from these eight-legged critters!
Dr. Ryan Llera is a small animal veterinarian at the Kingston Veterinary Clinic. Though originally from Florida, he married a Canadian (who is also a vet!) and they share their home with two cats, two dogs, two horses, and a rabbit. Dr. Llera also contributes writing to various other animal and veterinary related blogs. You can find more of his writing at www.DRRYANLLERA.com, or see what else he is up to on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
Disclaimer: All columns are personally written and my opinion, and may not necessarily reflect those of current or former employers.
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*Please note that specific medical questions about your pet cannot be addressed and you should speak with your personal veterinarian.