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By Dr. Jess Trimble
Ticks aren’t only looking for their next backwoods adventurer. They lurk in tall grass, short grass, meadows, trees, and other animals. They thrive everywhere there is greenery, from city parks to the backcountry. Like fleas, they also like a good heat wave (or a nice Indian summer), so they can become a year-long problem in warmer climates.
After spending time outside, it’s always good to give your pet a little rub down. What they think are “good boy” pats can also be a quick feel and scan for ticks. Get in a routine of checking your pet because ticks can bite and hold on for up to one week.
Since there’s no escaping ticks, it’s important to make sure your pets are continuously protected with a tick prevention medicine. For dogs, we typically use oral products that kill all kinds of pests like ticks, fleas, and mites. Most cats don’t need tick preventatives unless they’re an outdoor cat. Dog tick preventatives are toxic for cats, so dogs with topical tick prevention should stay away from their feline friends for a bit.
Tick prevention works just like other pest prevention medicines. The tick dies within a few hours of biting, typically before it transfers any diseases. Ticks carry many diseases, including Lyme Disease and Tick Paralysis, which results in a slow paralysis of the limbs! It sounds scary, but all of this is preventable with meds. Talk to the Fuzzy vet team for more info.
If you do notice a tick on your pet, don’t make the expensive trip to the veterinary emergency room. Gently remove it with a tick removal tool like "tick twisters" or "tick keys". If you’re the outdoorsy type, these items are easy to throw in a hiking bag so you’re prepared while exploring with your best bud. Keep the area clean with soap and water and monitor it regularly. It’s normal to see a small bump or irritation where the tick was embedded, but it should disappear in a few days.
It’s a common misconception to light ticks on fire or squeeze to remove. Extra stress on the bug can make it angry and cause it to release whatever germs it carries. A non-traumatic experience for the tick can help slow any disease from transferring, so skip the urban legends and odd removal methods.
The Fuzzy Vet Team is always happy to verify if a bump is a tick. Just send us a picture in the mobile app and we'll help out - it's free!