When we think in terms of pets, certainly the dog is indeed not just man’s best friend but likely the best friend to every member of your family. Just like people, dogs are susceptible to becoming infected with tick-borne diseases. Considering that your furry friend spends more time outdoors in most cases than you do, he is even more at risk.
There are four major tick-borne diseases that affect dogs in the United States. These are Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme Disease. Any one of these diseases can be fatal in canines and should be diagnosed in a timely manner and treated aggressively.
With the risk of infection and possibly death, one would argue the question “should I just keep my dog indoors all summer until tick season has passed?” Mosquito Squad of the North Shore is here to educate dog owners on the most important facts about preventing these diseases and to know the warning signs if your dog is infected so you may act quickly.
The most important thing to remember is your dog is going to pick up an infected tick or be bitten by an infected tick most likely, on your property. Wherever your canine frequents as a restroom, or for exercise and play, should be kept cut and trimmed and not allowed to become overgrown. Making certain that your canine is on either oral or spot-on tick preventative is crucial. You and your veterinarian can discuss the preventative that would work best for your circumstances. Keeping your property treated for tick prevention by contacting a licensed professional to treat your property is also important in the prevention of tick-borne illness in both you, and your dog. Make sure to avoid un-treated and overgrown, tick-prone areas with your pet. Checking your pet on a daily basis throughout tick-season is also key in prevention of disease. Depending on the type of tick and the disease it carries, the attachment and feeding time may vary from several hours to several days in order to transmit the disease to your pet. So prompt removal is a must.
Proper removal of an attached tick is also important. Traumatizing a tick during removal can cause the tick to expel its gut contents which greatly increases the risk of passing any bacteria or organism which causes disease. The proper way to remove an attached tick is to use tweezers and firmly grad the body of the tick and pull it straight out. Do not ever twist or jerk the tick . Sometimes the head can be difficult to remove due to the barb on the ticks mouth. If the mouth parts seems to still be attached following the removal, use an alcohol sterilized needle to remove the head. NEVER use alcohol, nail polish, petroleum jelly or hot matches to remove a tick. Make sure you always wear gloves when removing a tick since many of the tick borne diseases in dogs are also transmittable to people.
Once the tick has been removed use a vial or empty pill bottle filled with rubbing alcohol to store the tick for possible future testing and identification. Date the bottle and also mark the date on your calendar, just as you would with a person. This dating method is efficient if you or your dog start to show symptoms of illness or disease.
Many times it is hard to distinguish between symptoms of a tick-borne disease or just lethargy in your dog. Many symptoms are overlooked and chalked up to the heat, eating too much grass, etc. It is important to note any changes in your dogs behavior during tick season. Symptoms to look for in Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme Disease are lack of appetite, weight loss, and continued lethargy.
Here are the top five things you need to know to keep your dog happy and safe this summer
- Keep property clean and tidy and un-inviting to ticks.
- Keep your canine on tick preventative available through your vet.
- Have your property treated by a licensed professional to prevent ticks.
- Check your dog for ticks after any venture outdoors.
- Remove ticks properly and contact your veterinarian at the first sign of trouble.
This simple checklist will keep you and your best friend safe this season. Call us to find out about how we can treat your property to kill and prevent ticks the entire season
Mosquito Squad of the North Shore can ensure you and your canine companion don’t have to stay in all season and miss out on all the summer fun!