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As we all know, ticks can carry parasites, which is partly why they are so dangerous. Not only are they literally sucking the life blood from your pet, but they’re potentially giving it an awful disease too. The risk of anaemia from blood loss is low unless your pet has a lot of ticks on them, or if they are particularly small, such as puppies and kittens, otherwise, the main concern will be what this little tick is passing back. When checking for ticks, be sure to brush the fur both with and against the hair direction, and also check hidden areas such as the feet pads, inside ears and around the chin/muzzle area.
The most common issue is Lyme Disease, which ticks often carry from local wildlife, though there are other risks from them as well, including Anaplasmosis and Rickettsiosis. Lyme Disease can be difficult to diagnose, but the first symptoms tend to be high fevers, swollen joints and lymph nodes, loss of appetite and lethargy. If you have been on a country walk and find that your pooch is displaying any of these symptoms, it’s imperative that you get to a vet straight away. However, ticks aren’t just banished to open fields and long grass; they are just as likely to be picked up in the park, so check pets regularly between March and October, which is the height of tick season. They will find any animal to feed on, they aren’t fussy, including your cat, dog, horse or you or your family, so everyone should be checked over.
Preventing ticks is the simplest course of action. There are loads of products available to purchase, from topical spot-on treatments to special collars. No matter what type you use, the content will be similar â” they will contain an ingredient that repels the tick off the skin, kills the tick on contact with the skin, or prevents the tick from being able to attach properly. It is not uncommon to see a tick whilst using a preventative product these often latch on, then the ingredient takes effect and they die but are still glued in place. If you’re using a good quality preventative and see a tick, it’s probably already dead.
There are other options, and many people advocate for a natural remedy rather than chemical. Essential oils such as Rose Geranium and Pennyroyal are often used, though cannot be used on cats or pregnant bitches. As with most herbal remedies, there is much less testing to prove these effective, so animals should still be checked thoroughly.
If you do find a tick, the next problem is how to safely remove it. Doing this correctly is essential to prevent an abscess from forming. Due to the way the tick bites and beds into the skin, it’s common for the body of the tick to be removed, but to leave the mouth piece still attached, which will become infected. Also, if the tick is compressed or squeezed at all, it can cause all its internal fluid to flow back into your pet greatly increasing the risk of its passing a disease through at the same time.
Freezing, burning, drowning or twisting a tick will not get it off correctly, but are more likely to make the situation worse. Best option is to use a specially designed tick removal tool, or if you don’t have one to hand, a pair of precision or fine tweezers (not the type you pluck with!), and grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible, without jerking it back or squeezing, and simply pull upwards in one motion. Dispose of the tick straight away, and wipe the wound with antiseptic and wash hands thoroughly, keeping an eye on the area for a few days to ensure no infection starts up.
Ticks can be a pain, but if you spend some time stroking, brushing, and checking your pet, it doesn’t have to ruin your summer. And let us be honest, there isn’t always all that much summer to enjoy!