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What to Know About Your Pet and Ticks

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Ticks are nasty little pests that can cause a lot of problems with our beloved pets. Ticks can cause disease by transmitting microbes and bacteria when they bite your pet or even yourself. Especially down here in Florida, we need to be more cautious when it comes to ticks and ensure that we constantly checking our furry companions.

Ticks are sneaky creepy crawlies that can easily stay hidden under your dog’s long fur. It can even be difficult to find ticks on your short-haired dog! At Royal Pets Market & Resort, we wanted to give pet owners more information about ticks and how to deal with these pesky pests. Whether you have a dog, cat, or you are worried about yourself being bitten, you will want to get all the information you need to deal with ticks properly.

Read on to learn more. If your dog or cat gets bitten by a tick and starts showing symptoms of illness, be sure to contact one of our locations to schedule a visit with our vets!

What is a Tick

Let’s start with the basics — what is a tick? A tick is a spider-like bug that is egg-shaped and sucks blood. Ticks have eight legs and can be anywhere from one millimeter to one centimeter long. Ticks are commonly found in woodland, grassland, and field areas. However, they can also be found in your garden.

Ticks attach to their host, suck their blood, and lay eggs, before releasing when they are full. While ticks cannot fly or jump, they can easily grab onto your dog or cat’s fur and bite them. Ticks climb to the top of grass and wait for a host to brush past before grabbing your pet’s coat. Ticks can carry and transfer disease, including Lyme disease and babesiosis.

How to Look For Ticks

Whether you take nice sunset strolls through rolling grassland hills or you stick strictly to the sidewalk, you will still want to check your dog (and yourself) for ticks. If your cat spends some time outside, you will want to make sure to check them as well. Indoor cats can be less of a concern since they will likely never be in tick territory.

Ticks are big enough to see, although you will likely have to part your pet's fur to actually spot them. It is very likely that you will feel a tick before you see it. If you are taking the time to search your dog for ticks, slowly run your hands over their body and pay attention to any bumps. There are some areas that are more common for ticks to be found, these include:

  • In and around the ears
  • Under the front legs
  • Between the back legs
  • Under the collar
  • Around the eyelids
  • Between the toes
  • Around the tail

Be sure to feel all of these areas to search for ticks, but don’t only check these areas! Ticks can attach anywhere, these areas are only the most common places.

Once you feel a bump, gently part your pet's hair to see if it is a tick. While you may think that it will be hard to tell for sure if the bump is a tick, it should be rather obvious since this bump will have legs and an egg-shaped body. The body will become darker and larger as it fills with blood.

How to Remove a Tick

Once you find a tick on your dog or cat, you will want to remove it as quickly as possible. Since ticks carry and transmit diseases, removing them right away can help reduce the risk of disease. Ticks on dogs and cats are removed the same way, just be sure to remove them right when you find them.

There are a few things you want to be aware of when removing a tick from your pet. First of all, never squeeze the body. By squeezing the tick’s body, you could cause the blood to be pushed back into your pet, which increases the risk of infection. You also want to make sure you remove the entire tick and don’t allow the head to get stuck inside your dog.

If the tick’s head gets stuck inside your pet’s skin, never dig around to try and remove it. This will actually increase the risk of skin infection in your pet. Like splinters, nature will take its course and push the tick’s head out eventually. You can apply antibiotic ointment to ensure reduce the risk of infection. Be sure to keep an eye on the area to make sure there is no skin rash, irritation, or infection. If something develops, be sure to bring your pet to the vet.

Use tweezers or a tick removal tool, which you can find at any pet store, to remove the tick. If you use tweezers, be sure to get as close to your pet’s skin as possible, without hurting them. Squeeze the tick’s head tightly and pull straight upward, in a slow and steady motion. It may take more force than you would assume.

Some vets suggest saving the tick in a jar or other container they cannot escape from for a while before disposing of it. If your dog or cat begins to show symptoms, you can bring the tick to see if it was infected with a disease. This is not always necessary, but it could be beneficial.

What Disease Do Ticks Transmit

These nasty pests can transmit diseases to your pet, which is why it is so important to look for them and remove them instantly. Ticks can cause diseases including Lyme disease and babesiosis.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that can be very serious. Symptoms include fever, lameness, swollen lymph nodes, swollen and painful joints, depression, and loss of appetite. If you begin to notice any of these symptoms in your dog or cat, especially after a tick bite.

Babesiosis is a disease that incubates for about two weeks but many pets are not diagnosed for months or years. Symptoms include depression, pale gums, a swollen abdomen, and fever. They may also have a loss of appetite and skin may become yellowish. Again, if you notice any of these symptoms, bring your pet to the vet right away!

There are many different types of tick prevention which can help keep your pets safe from these little pests. Hopefully, you now know more about ticks and will know what to do if you ever find a tick on your dog or cat. Be sure to contact Royal Pets Market & Resort in Florida to schedule a vet visit if your dog starts showing symptoms. We are happy to help!