As the weather warms, the ticks come out. Those pesky little eight-legged menaces are looking for warm, furry bodies to dig their little mandibles into and potentially spread diseases like Lyme.
Now is the time to start making certain your animals are protected from diseases carried by ticks.
Read on to learn how to prevent ticks and protect from disease.
There are many ways to help prevent ticks from ever reaching your beloved furry family members. Talking to any pest control service will yield a number of options that could help, but if you don’t want to use chemicals, then there are some good ways to help keep them at bay around your home.
One of the best things you can do to minimize ticks in your yard is keep the grass cut short. This simple chore makes it so ticks aren’t attracted to your yard. Ticks like to hang out on the tips of long grass and wave their front legs around to hook onto an animal as it passes by. They can also find their way onto low hanging branches, and on the ends of bushes. Keeping everything neatly trimmed helps keep your yard an unattractive home for ticks.
If the world could keep all the grass trimmed and all the trees cut back, it would be a very tick-safe place. It would also lose much of its natural beauty. When we leave our yard, we leave our ability to control the environment, and when we go for a hike or a stroll through a field, nature is truly the one in control.
To protect your furry friends, Staten Island Vet encourages you to reduce the risk of tick attachment with flea/tick preventatives. These may be topical and absorbed through the skin, or ingested in the form of a medicated treat. Most of these medications kill ticks (and fleas) after they’ve consumed your animal’s blood once, while some topical treatments also repel ticks. You may also want to consider vaccinating your pet against Lyme disease, which will protect your animal from illness even if a tick does bite her. However, the Lyme vaccine ONLY protects against Lyme disease, and none of the many other diseases passed through tick bites.
More natural flea and tick repellent options include Vetri Repel Spray by VetriScience, Wondercide (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29168105/), and essential oils blends such as those made by Dr. Melissa Shelton at AnimalEO.com. These may require more frequent reapplication.
Regardless of your prevention options, we recommend daily tick checks after any exposure to tall grass, known high risk areas such as the woods, and ideally after any time outdoors.
As a note, smaller animals like rabbits that may live outside in hutches may still get ticks, but they do not catch Lyme disease.
Ticks can be difficult to completely remove once burrowed into the skin. You can always call us about scheduling an appointment for tick removal. Tick spoons are a wonderful addition to any first aid kit and can be very helpful in completely removing a tick with ease. You can find them here: https://amzn.to/2MOIZe6
Tick disease testing
If your pet has been bitten by a tick, tick-borne disease testing with a blood test is recommended 4-6 weeks after the tick bite to check for Lyme disease and other common tick-borne infections. In the meantime, monitor your pet for lethargy (tiredness), poor appetite, bruising, limping, and other general signs of illness (anything that seems unusual for your pet).
There is also a wonderful website called www.tickreport.com, which is a fantastic resource for pets who have been bitten by a tick. For a small fee (as low as $50), you can send the removed tick to this laboratory test and they test the ticks themselves for disease so that we know exactly what may have gotten into your pet. However, their funding has been inconsistent and they are often furloughed. You can help keep this amazing resource active by donating here if you are interested: https://paypal.me/tickreport or via check made out to "MedZu, INC" sent to:
29C Cottage St
Amherst MA 01002
Remember to take action against ticks and tick-borne illnesses this summer season. Schedule a visit to talk about your options.
If you have questions about what tick control medications are safe for your animals, please call Staten Island Vet Group today.