Summer is Time for Tick Control
By Arlo the Hound with help from Honor Tarpenning
Summertime is in full swing and that means it is full-blown tick season. We dogs and our humans spend lots more time outside this time of year and there are more ticks out there too. Don’t forget that you absolutely must check yourself, your family and your dog for ticks after every excursion into the great outdoors.
Ticks and Disease
Ticks carry various dangerous diseases, including Rocky Mountain spotted fever and the ever-dreaded Lyme disease. In the last 15 or so years, the incidence of death from Lyme disease has drastically decreased due to advancements in understanding of the disease and its symptoms. When caught early, Lyme disease treatment with antibiotics has a high rate of success, and can be taken care of without leaving lingering symptoms. However, if not treated, or not caught early enough, Lyme disease can cause lingering joint pain, fever, confusion, disorientation, and even death. Therefore, if your dog is experiencing flu like symptoms, such as joint pain, swollen lymph nodes, loss of appetite, lameness, or high fever, it’s time for a trip to the vet—especially if your dog has a history of tick exposure.
These critters tend to hang out in most outdoor environments. In fact, you dog is just as likely to pick one up in your back yard as he is in the forest if you do not take the proper precautions. Remember that ticks are carried by all manner of furry and feathered creature (and even reptiles) from squirrels to songbirds, so keeping your yard free of wildlife is a good practice. Ticks like to hide from the summer heat in the shade, so keep your grass cut, your plants well-groomed, and weeds pulled so they have fewer leafy, shady spots to hang out.
When you and your pooch are out in the woods, stick to well-worn trails and try not to let your dog wander around in the underbrush.
The best way to protect your pets from ticks is with a waterproof spot-on treatment. Frontline, K9 Advantix, and Revolution are examples of excellent tick repellents. They come in a small, single application tube, which you apply to one spot between your dog’s shoulder blades, providing him flea and tick (and sometimes mosquito, depending on the brand and variety) protection for up to 30 days, even after bathing and swimming.
When you and your dog get home, do a thorough tick check. The spots they prefer are close and tight, so check under his collar, in his “armpits” and groin area, and in any skin folds. Also examine in and around his ears carefully. Go through his coat with a brush, parting his hair so you can see the skin. This is a nice way to bond with your dog and making these checks part of your daily routine will be pleasurable for both of you.
If you do find a tick, don’t panic. Not all varieties of tick carry Lyme disease, and they must be attached for approximately 24 hours to transmit the disease. So if you are diligent, your dog will be more than ok. If it is not attached, snag it with a tissue and toss it in the toilet. If it is attached, just grab the tick as close to the mouth parts as possible with your fingers or tweezers, and pull it out, doing your best to remove the entire tick. Dispose of the tick, clean the bite area on your dog, and wash your hands thoroughly with hot water.
I hope it is as beautiful out wherever you are as it is here. I think it’s time to go for a nice, long walk!