As a newer member of the Tri-valley Area community, I am surprised at the number of ticks we are finding on pets at our clinic. Logically, it does make sense because of the large amount of suitable grassland habitat and associated wildlife in close proximety to a very dense canine/human population.
Ticks feed on the blood of their hosts. Ticks are drawn to motion, body heat, and the carbon dioxide exhaled by mammals, which is why they are attracted to dogs, cats, rodents, humans and other mammals. The tick bite itself is usually not painful, but the parasite can transmit diseases such as Lyme, Erlichiosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and cause tick paralysis.
Ticks need to take a blood meal in order to move to their next life stage, molt and reproduce. So biting and consuming blood is an essential need for egg laying and tick survival. Even without a blood meal, ticks can remain dormant, until a meal become available.
It takes several hours for an attached tick to transmit most disease, so owners can usually prevent disease transmission to their pets by regularly looking for and removing ticks.
So what can the astute pet owner do to prevent tick exposure and attachment?
Spray treating the yard and outdoor kennel area is an important tool in the prevention of ticks; especially if you live in close proximity to open space. During the spring and summer, spraying may be necessary every 1 to 2 weeks. It's best to check with you favorite local pest control company for advice on yard spray use.
If your pet goes outside regularly, you should be already using a topical flea control product such as Frontline Plus or Advantage Multi.
If your pet regularly swims or frequents areas were you note ticks, a tick collar maybe necessary to augment the protection that the topical flea products provide.
Check for ticks every time your pet comes back from an area you know is inhabited by ticks by rubbing your hands over your pet's entire body. Ticks attach most frequently around the pet's head, ears, neck, and feet, but are by no means restricted to those areas.
The safest way to remove a tick is to use rubbing alcohol and a pair of tweezers. Wearing gloves, dab rubbing alcohol on the tick, and then use the tweezers to take hold of the tick as close to the dog’s skin as you can; pull slowly and steadily.
Don’t squeeze the tick because it might inject some disease-causing organisms into your pet during the process. Once you have removed a live tick, don’t dispose of it until you have killed it. Put the tick in alcohol or insecticide to kill it. If the thought of touching a tick on your pet sends chills up your spine, contact your local veterinary clinic for assistance.