As we enter the summer months, tick numbers are on the rise. Not only do these pesky bugs cause you and your pet great discomfort, they also can lead to life-threatening diseases which makes tick prevention important for your pet’s health.
While ticks are most prominent in the summer and spring, your pet is susceptible to a bite at any time of the year. Due to this, it’s recommended that you provide your pet with protection year-round. There are numerous options to choose from when deciding how to keep your pet safe from ticks. As with any medication, be sure to consult your veterinarian to ensure your pet is being properly treated.
Topical: Topical flea and tick medications are a great option to look into as they’re both cost effective and easy to find in stores. They’re also great for pets who have sensitive stomachs as nothing is being ingested. Collars are another option to consider as a topical. These do not have any of the mess as a liquid topical and are equally effective.
Oral: Oral medications offer a similar result to topical, without all the mess. While not as effective as topicals, oral medications kill ticks and fleas on contact. Meaning that when your pet gets bit, the bug will die. With this medication, continue to check your pet for ticks, as they can still be attached to your dog or cat, even if they’re dead.
Natural: If you’re trying to avoid using medications to protect your pet from ticks, there are a multitude of natural options to consider. There are sprays available for purchase that contain a blend of essential oils that are supposed to be safe for pets. With some research, you can also create your own tick repellent by blending essential oils with water.
If your pet is outside a lot during the summer, take the time to check your dog for ticks, even if you are treating them with a preventative. Run your hands over your pet, feeling for any small, hard bumps. Be sure to check in areas like armpits and between toes, as ticks like spots like these to latch on. If you do find a tick on your pet, do not pull it off with your fingers! Use a pair of pointed tweezers or a tick scoop and get as close to the head of the tick as possible without pinching your dog’s skin. Once you get a good grip on the tick, pull upwards – do not twist! That way, part of the tick will not be left in the skin.
Once the tick is removed, take a photo of it and place it in a container. Should your pet show any signs of illness, show your vet the tick in order for them to determine the species of tick and which diseases are associated with that species. Clean the area of the skin that the tick was on with antiseptic and monitor your pet for any signs of illness.
If your dog or cat was bitten by a tick, here are some signs of Lyme Disease to look out for:
- Swollen joints
- Weight loss/loss of appetite
- Stiffness or lameness in one or more parts of the body
If your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms, bring them to the vet for an examination. Lyme Disease left untreated can be deadly.
Don’t let ticks prevent you and your pet from enjoying the warm summer weather! Talk to your veterinarian about the best tick preventative options for your furry friend.