tick embedded in dog

Why You Should Be Concerned About Ticks on Your Pets

Ticks Carry a Variety of Diseases

Ticks carry a variety of very debilitating diseases.  These include Lyme Disease, Babesia, Erlichia, Bartonella and many other diseases that can make both people and animals sick.  Although you may be careful when you hike or are out in “tick country”, your dog, cat, horse or other animals that you are affectionate with may bring ticks into your home, where they may transfer from your animal to you.  If you get bit by the tick, you are at risk of developing a painful, chronic illness.

Lyme Disease Awareness

You may be wondering why I decided to write about ticks and tick diseases this month.  Well, May is Lyme Disease Awareness month and I have Chronic Lyme Disease.  There were times in my life that I was bedridden due to the disease.  I am not sure when I was bitten, as I have never removed a tick from my body and I have never had the “bullseye rash” (actually, less than 50% of Lyme Disease patients actually get one.)  Because I hiked, camped, rode horses, worked in zoos and lived an outdoor life, I could have been bitten at any time, but because I also have always had pets, I may have gotten the tick from a pet, too.

Tick Prevention

If your pets wander or play in tall grasses or brush, make sure you check them for ticks before they come back to the house.  There are also many new products that will repel ticks and prevent them from biting your pet.  One of the biggest pieces that is missing on finding a cure for this disease is lack of awareness.  Many people have not heard of these diseases or the problems that they cause.  Preventing the bite is the best way to prevent this disease from speeding. 

This does not mean that you cannot enjoy hiking, camping and spending time outdoors with your pets, just be careful and aware of any hitch-hiking ticks that they may bring home. Check your pets daily if they spend any time outdoors – ticks are active year round in many parts of the country, even after hard frosts.

If You Find a Tick

Visually scan for ticks by running your fingers slowly over your dog’s entire body, including between their toes and inside the ears. If you feel a bump or swollen area, check to see if a tick has burrowed in there. They can be brown, black or tan but will all have eight legs. Some ticks, such as deer ticks, can be really tiny – the size of the head of a pin – so look very carefully.

There are many bad suggestions circulating for how to remove a tick, everything from pouring oil on it to burning it off. Don’t do any of those! It’s really important that the tick be removed with its head intact .Some of these techniques will either cause the tick to latch on tighter and pump out more bacteria, or leave the head in place, with the same result. Instead, we recommend that you follow the instructions provided by the Humane Society.

After removing the tick and cleansing, keep an eye on the area to see if an infection surfaces. If the skin remains irritated or shows signs of infections, make an appointment with your veterinarian.