Ticks on your pet’s skin are more than just an irritant to be removed. Apart from causing an itch that leaves your pet scratching himself all over, these pesky beings can make your pet really sick. Let’s take a closer look at what these pests can do and how to stop them from doing it. Ticks are parasites and latch on to your pet’s skin by their mouth. They get attracted by the warmth and the presence of carbon dioxide on your pet’s skin. They then feed off the blood of the animal that they’ve attached themselves to. They are visibly present on the skin of the pet and have a hard-backed shield that can be felt as small bumps on your pet’s body, even during regular petting.
They can cause serious illnesses like toxicosis, hypersensitivity, and even anemia. They can also transmit bacterial and viral illnesses and impact the skin, the lymphatic system, the immune system and the nervous systems of the animal, sometimes fatally if left untreated. Ticks don’t jump onto the animal’s skin, and depend on long grass and shrubs to latch onto passing animals. Pets that frequent wooded areas are most at risk, and should be checked regularly to prevent any long-term contact. The longer the tick stays on the pet, the more likely the risk of an illness borne out of the contact. Apart from looking for these parasites on your pet’s skin, your vet may order a battery of tests to rule out tick-borne diseases. Having seen their modus operandi, let’s now take a look at things to do, in order to protect our pets from these pesky beings.
1. Check For Ticks Every Day
Research suggests that it takes a minimum of 24 hours for a tick to start transmitting disease causing bacteria onto its host. Which is why it’s important that you check your pet for ticks daily, if not after every exposure. And care needs to be taken to look for ticks in the areas where they can hide easily like behind the earflaps, between the toes or around the base of the tail. Also, it may be a good idea to ask your vet to check your pet for ticks at each exam. It’s also a good idea to keep yourself informed about the tick-borne diseases in your area.
2. Use Natural Tick Deterrents
It’s best to use natural tick deterrents available in the market. They make your pet less desirable to ticks and don’t cause any harmful side effects that chemical deterrents bring with them.
3. Create A Healthy Body
As pet-parents, our primary focus should be on keeping our pets healthy. Unhealthy animals make good targets for parasites. A healthy pet may have an occasional tick, but ensuring it has a strong immune system with a good diet, lots of exercise and minimal chemical exposure is your best bet in protecting him from ticks and the illnesses they bring.
4. Removing Ticks Correctly
If you spot a tick on your pet, you need to exercise caution while removing it. You shouldn’t use bare hands as you can catch an infection if you crush an infected tick. It’s best to use gloves and use a tick-removing tool or a pair of tweezers and pull the tick’s body away from the skin. Once you remove the tick, flush it down the toilet. It’s important to disinfect your dog’s skin with betadine solution or soapy water. The bite needs to be observed for the next few days. Contact your vet if you find any irritation or inflammation.
5. An Exam After You Spot A Tick
Tick bites on your furry pal are hard to detect and symptoms of any tick-borne illness will not begin to show for up to 21 days if not longer. It becomes imperative then, to observe your pet closely for changes in appetite or behavior if you think he’s been bitten by a tick. If you suspect that your pet has had an exposure to tick bites, have him tested for tick-borne diseases 3-4 weeks after his exposure. Checking for ticks often enough and having your pet’s blood tested
every six months for silent infections is the best way to keep your pet safe from potentially fatal tick-borne illnesses.
6. Reduce Tick Habitat In The Yard
Poorly maintained yards are breeding grounds for ticks. A well- manicured yard on the other hand discourages their spread and keeps your pet safe as he romps about in the outdoors.