Tiny Invaders Ticks (Part 2 of 3)
Unlike fleas, ticks do not want to infest your home; they just want to suck your blood. While fleas want to feed and live on our furry friends, ticks will feed on any unfortunate victim. Dog, cat, or human… they are not picky. Tick bites are dangerous.
Most people are familiar with Lyme Disease, a common tick borne disease in our area that affects the joints and other organs. However, there are also diseases like Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. All can make your pet sick, sometimes requiring a combination of blood tests (some more costly than others) to figure out which one is the culprit and how much damage the disease is doing internally. All require at least one month of antibiotics and sometimes, additional medications to treat pain, suppress the immune system, and treat symptoms like anorexia, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Some cases can be so severe; your pet could end up hospitalized and fighting for its life. Animals have died from complications related to tick borne diseases, such as: Lyme Nephrosis (acute kidney failure), Immune-Mediated Thrombocytopenia or Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (diseases where the immune system attacks the body’s own platelets and red blood cells. Since these diseases often attack the joints, an infection puts your pet at risk for arthritis. Arthritis can have a huge impact on quality of life, and often requires life long supplements, pain medicine, acupuncture, laser therapy, surgery, and stem cell therapy to manage the symptoms. Over the life of a pet, these treatments can cost a significant amount of money. Better for your pet, and your wallet, to prevent tick bites in the first place.
With fleas, we aim to stop them from reproducing in our homes, because that is what leads to an infestation. Ticks do not want to infest, they just want to eat and move on. In addition, when they do, they will pass along any disease they carry. Therefore, we need to kill them out right before that happens. The faster you kill a tick, the less likely it will have enough time to transmit the disease. Thus, products that have the fastest tick kill times are the most effective at preventing tick borne diseases. In the winter, we need to treat for fleas to prevent infestation; we need to treat for ticks to prevent bites.
Ticks become dormant in the winter, but do not die. They basically have their own antifreeze to help them survive sub-zero temperatures; however, all you need is a mild winter day and they wake up long enough to bite.
To prevent ticks year round, it is best to use a flea and tick topical product, applied to your pet every 30 days. Some products are faster at killing ticks, others more repellant, while some are gentler on the skin for pets with sensitivities. However, even the best 30 day topical may not be enough if you live in an area that is heavily infested by ticks. We may recommend adding a protective band or collar for the seasons when ticks are at their worst. Talk to your vet about which product would work best for your pet depending on their lifestyle and exposure level.
Video ~ click on picture
Remember to consult with your veterinarian about what products will work best for you and your pets. Buy your products at a veterinary office to ensure the quality and the manufacture guarantees (these are voided when sold over the counter).
Written by Dana Hatfield, D.V.M
June 6, 2013