As spring begins to bloom into summer, invariably we will find that tick season is upon us once again. For many seasoned pet owners, knowing how to battle these bloodsuckers is old hat. But for new pet owners, or those new to the Billings area, knowing how to protect your pet and prepare for battle with these parasites can seem a bit overwhelming.
We understand how you’re feeling. Ticks are gross.
Keeping your pet safe is the first line of defense when it comes to having a tick-free cat or dog. For dogs, this means keeping them on-leash whenever possible, especially if you are out for a hike or working the ranch. We know this is counter-intuitive to many Montanans, but this time of year it is imperative if you want to keep your pet pest-free.
Even if you’re pet’s aren’t going anywhere, keeping your property secure against other animals wondering onto your property will help protect your pet as well. Ticks are the ultimate hitchhikers, and will hop a ride on any warm-blooded creature they can find. This includes deer, raccoons, foxes, and even other neighborhood pets.
If possible, keep your pet indoors or in a fenced yard. Likewise, make sure all refuse is tightly covered in an effort to discourage inviting any unwanted guests onto your property for a late-night buffet.
The most important thing you can do in the battle against ticks is “The Tick Check.” Get into the routine of checking your pet for ticks at the end of every day or, at the very least, every outing. Ticks like to latch onto the skin around your pet’s ears, head, and neck, but can often be found anywhere that comes in contact with the tick’s outdoor environment.
Ticks are typically quite small, making them easy to miss until they’ve gorged themselves on blood and swollen into an unmistakable size, so be diligent in your checking so you can catch them early on.
Yes, That’s a Tick
So, you’ve found a tick. Now what?
First, don’t panic. Then, get your tweezers, some rubbing alcohol and a lighter. Next, dab the area with rubbing alcohol. Then, very carefully get a hold of the tick using your tweezers and, being careful not to “rupture” the tick, pull it straight out of your pet’s skin. Be careful not to twist the tick and do your very best to get all of the parasite, including its head. Swab the affected area with rubbing alcohol and then light the thing on fire.
Yes, you read that right. Light the tick on fire. Or, barring that, drown it in rubbing alcohol. Don’t throw it in the trash or try to flush it down the toilet because that won’t kill the tick.
See, we told you ticks are gross.
After you’ve removed the tick be sure to monitor your pet’s behavior for a week or so, if your pet becomes sluggish, irritable or shows any other sign of illness contact us immediately for an exam.
When it comes to ticks, knowing how to keep your pet safe and remove any hitchhikers you find is only half the battle. The other half is keeping your pet current on prescription preventative treatments.
In the fight against ticks, it is important to follow your veterinarian’s orders on this and not risk the chances that over-the-counter preventatives available will work—because, to be frank, chances are they won’t.
The health risks associated with ticks are high. A few examples are:
- Lyme disease
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
- Kidney damage
There are treatments available for these issues, but they are costly and pose risks of their own.
If you are concerned that your pet has a tick-related illness, or have any other questions regarding these bloodsucking pests, please contact us. We’re happy to answer whatever questions you might have.