rving with pets

Tick Disease and Prevention with Dr. Fitz on 'Paws on Board'

I’m Dr. Fitz, and this is Theo. Today I’m going to be talking about tick prevention. I’m going to be addressing what ticks are,
why we worry about them, and what you can do about it. First, ticks are eight legged parasites that can bite both our pets and us.
Depending on the stage of their life cycle, they can be different sizes, some even about the size of the head of a pin. This can make them extremely difficult to find within our pet’s fur. There are different species of ticks, depending on what area of the country that you’re in. Younger ticks tend to feed on small wildlife like mice and other rodents, but eventually will feed on larger animals, such as deer, dogs, and people.

Ticks are commonly found in wooded areas, tall grass, and brush, but you can also find them in your own backyard. We primarily worry about ticks because they can carry bacteria that can make you sick. Many of the bacteria can cause acute short-term illness, but they can also cause longer term chronic illness, as well. Some of the diseases you might’ve heard of, like Lyme Disease. There’s others like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, anaplasmosis, and ehrlichiosis, among others. These diseases spread often depend on what type of the country that you’re in and what type of tick is actually biting. 

The best thing that you can do for your pet is to keep them on tick prevention. Preventative products work to kill the ticks when they bite, which reduces the likelihood that they’ll spread disease over time. There are different options for preventative products. There’s chewable medications which are usually nice and tasty; topical medications, which you can apply a small amount of liquid to the back of your pet’s neck; or there’s flea and tick collars. There are pros and cons to each type of medication and prevention. My recommendation is to talk to your primary care veterinarian about which products would be best for your pet, based on the area of the country that you’re in and your lifestyle. Most products on the market last for about one month. There are several products that last for about three months, and then collars last a bit longer. Most products can be purchased through your veterinarian or with a prescription. The primary concern is to make sure that your pet is protected for the entire length of time that you’ll be on vacation. So, if your pet’s gonna be due for a dose while you’re on your trip, make sure you bring the dose with you so that your pet’s covered. Most veterinarians recommend year-round treatment for ticks.

In Michigan, with our variable weather, I’ve pulled ticks off pets in early March and often several. So, ticks can be active in all sorts of weather. Even if your pet is on prevention, you still may see a tick on them. If you notice a tick, the best thing that you can do is remove it. Daily checks of you and your pet can be helpful in early tick removal. Make sure to check between your dog’s toes, in and around the ears, and everywhere on the face.

So, when you check the feet, you can lift their feet and check between their toes. Make sure you look between all the hair, and flip it over and look between the paw pads, as well. Ticks like to hide in places that are not easy to reach. So, the tools that you’ll need for the job include tweezers, or there’s commercially available tick remover tools, and antiseptic wipes. To remove the tick, you’ll part the fur to find the tick and grasp it as close to the skin as possible. You don’t want to squeeze too hard or actually crush the tick. You’ll pull away from the skin with gentle pressure. Again, our goal is to remove the entire tick, including the mouth parts that have actually bitten your pet. Once a tick is removed, you’ll take your antiseptic wipes, wipe the area, and then wash your hands. If the mouth parts are left in the skin, you should monitor the site for signs of infection. So, make sure you’re checking it at least once a day. What you can do after removal is then dispose of the tick in a sealed plastic bag in the trash. 

If you are interested in what type of tick has bitten and what diseases it might carry, some states actually have a tick submission program. So, you can check on your state website for more information. Ultimately, the easiest way to prevent a tick bite and the diseases they may carry, is prevention. So, keep your pet up-to-date and travel safely. For more information about traveling safely with your pets, visit RollinOnTV.com. Tune in next time for more pet health information. I’m Dr. Fitz. This is Theo. Thanks for watching “Paws on Board”.