Arm Your Family with Effective Tick Prevention
Indiana is home to some 15 species of ticks, yet pets and people usually come into contact with only three: the American dog tick, the Lone Star tick, and the black-legged tick (also known as the deer tick). All of these ticks could be carriers of disease, so it’s important to practice consistent tick prevention to keep your pet and your family safe.
Below, you can see which ticks are associated with which diseases. This can help you better understand you and your pet’s level of risk if a tick is found.
- American dog tick – This tick is the largest of the species listed here, and dark brown in color. The female also has an off-white mark right behind her mouthparts.
- Diseases: Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which causes symptoms such as poor appetite, fever, joint pain, and swollen lymph nodes in pets.
- Lone Star tick – These ticks are a bit smaller than the American dog tick and lighter brown in color. The female has a white dot in the middle of her back.
- Diseases: Rocky Mountain spotted fever or ehrlichiosis. Ehrlichiosis causes fever, loss of appetite, and is often noted by bruising or anemia caused by low blood platelets.
- Black-legged tick – This tick is the only one of the three that causes Lyme disease. It is the smallest, with nymphs being about the size the period of this sentence. Because of their inconspicuous size, nymphs are thought to be the main transmitters of Lyme disease to both pets and humans.
- Diseases: Lyme disease causes pets to develop fever, joint pain and swelling, lameness and limping, enlarged lymph nodes, and fatigue. If not treated early, kidney disease could develop as well.
How to Protect Your Pet
Ticks can cause serious illness in your pet, and while tick-borne diseases can be treated effectively, therapy is often expensive and your pet could suffer from lingering side-effects. If any of the above diseases are not caught early enough, they could be fatal. Here’s how you can prevent bites altogether:
- Avoid wooded areas with tall grass and brush. This is prime tick real estate.
- When hiking, wear long sleeves and pants, and tuck your shirt into your pants and your pants into your socks to limit skin exposure. For your pet, make sure they are up to date on parasite preventatives.
- Keep your all of your pets’ parasite preventatives, especially their tick control products, up to date, even if one or more of your pet’s don’t go outside often (or at all).
- Check your pet (and yourself, for that matter!) daily for ticks, and every time they come in from being outdoors.
- Ticks need to be attached for several hours before they transmit disease, so if you see one, remove it immediately.
Safe Tick Removal
If you do encounter an attached tick on you or your pet, remove them in the following manner:
- Use tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible.
- Without twisting or jerking the tick, pull straight up with steady pressure.
- Dispose of the tick in an empty jar or Ziplock bag and label it with the date and where you think your pet picked up the tick.
- Wash your hands and the bite site thoroughly with soap and water as well as rubbing alcohol to disinfect the area. Also, don’t forget to disinfect the tweezers, too!
- Watch the area on your pet for signs of infection and call you veterinarian if any symptoms do develop.
For more information about tick-borne illness and tick prevention, contact us today at (812) 897-4855.