The Dangers of Ticks and How You Can Protect Your Pet
As spring approaches and people start to enjoy the great outdoors of Colorado with their dogs, it is important to realize that pets are at risk from ticks and tick-related diseases. Outdoor activities are fun and healthy for you and your pet, and you can enjoy hours outside if you take the right precautions and know the dangers of ticks.
Here's what every dog owner needs to know about the ways ticks can affect your pet's health and how to reduce the risk of exposure this summer.
Dangers of Ticks
Ticks can spread numerous diseases, with the most damaging being Lyme disease. Ticks can also spread ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis; they can also cause paralysis and nerve damage. Deer ticks, black legged-ticks, and brown dog ticks can all carry diseases or cause tick paralysis.
Most diseases carried by ticks have severe and even permanent health consequences. Lyme disease, for example, causes bodily degeneration that cannot be reversed in both dogs and humans. Many pet owners are aware of the dangers to people but do not realize that ticks can also negatively affect dogs.
The best way to keep your dog safe from ticks is to practice active prevention and protection. There are pesticide sprays you can use that are made for dogs to deter ticks from your dog when you're out exploring the wilderness. Some flea and tick prevention medication actually kills ticks who try to bite your dog; a vet can prescribe this medication.
In your yard, keep the grass trimmed to deter ticks since they prefer long grass with more animal hosts. You also want to prevent wild animals who are tick egg hosts from coming on your property. Clear away trash and food to keep raccoons, mice, and wild cats out of the yard.
Bring your dog inside at night to help reduce association with stray animals who are more active at night.
If you live in a more rural setting (such as a farm or ranch), then you might install an invisible fence to make sure your dog stays in areas that are mowed and well maintained.
Get in the habit of checking your dog for ticks each day. This is harder when your dog has longer fur, but you can be thorough with the help of a brush. Your dog will get used to this routine if you do it consistently. In the summer, especially for dogs that do not shed, you might consider trimming the hair quite short to make it easier to spot stowaway ticks.
Check favorite spots like where the legs meet the body, behind the ears, under the tail, and in the folds of skin around the neck. Ticks can also attach to the feet, including in between the toes.
Even with prevention medications and reduced exposure, your dog can still end up with a tick bite. Be sure to recognize troubling early signs of infections, including:
- Reduced energy levels or lethargy
- Lack of appetite
- Bruising on the gums or stomach
- Scratching at the bite site
- A runny nose and watery eyes
- Joint pain
- Trouble walking or coordinating movements
- Depression or other changes in temperament
When you do see any of the symptoms listed above, get immediate veterinary care. If you do find a tick on your dog, then take the tick and your dog to the vet to be tested. For some diseases, like Lyme disease, early treatment is essential to prevent problems later.
For more information on treating dogs for tick prevention, give us a call at Columbine Animal Hospital & 24 Hour Emergency Clinic today.