Unfortunately, your furry friends are likely to encounter less-than-welcome pests and may even unknowingly bring them into your home, said Dr. Elisabeth Giedt, director of Continuing Education, Extension and Community Engagement at the Center for Veterinary Health Sciences at Oklahoma State University.
“While pet owners can’t prevent ticks 100 percent of the time, steps can be taken to greatly impede these little critters and the diseases they spread,” Giedt said. “Discuss with your veterinarian products that may be used on your pet to control ticks and which vaccines are available to control tickborne disease in your pet. Vaccines and tick control products are species specific. Don’t use dog products on cats. Although vaccines aren’t available for all of the tickborne diseases pets can get, this is a good place to start when it comes to protecting your pet.”
Dogs are quite susceptible to tick bites and tickborne diseases. To help reduce the chances that a tick will transmit disease to you or your pets, be sure to check your pet daily for ticks, especially after spending time outside.
If you find a tick, remove it right away. This is done fairly easily with a pair of pointed tweezers. Simply grab the tick right next to the skin and pull it out like a splinter. Also, ask your veterinarian to do a tick check at each exam.
“It’s also a good idea for pet owners to treat their pets with an acaricide, which is a pesticide product that controls ticks by killing them on contact or by being absorbed into the bloodstream and killing ticks that attach and feed,” she said. “An acaricide comes in various forms, including dusts, sprays, topical treatments or impregnated collars. This type of product helps reduce the number of ticks in the environment and may help prevent tickborne diseases.”
On the downside, if your pet does get bitten, tick bites can cause a painful wound and may become infected. This, of course, depends on the type of tick, which disease, if any, it is carrying and how quickly the product kills the feeding tick.
A repellent product can help prevent the tick from coming into contact with your pet, or can have an anti-feeding effect once the tick comes into contact with the chemical.
“While this will prevent your animal from bite wounds and possible infections, a repellant won’t reduce the number of ticks in your immediate environment because these products do not kill ticks,” Giedt said.
If you live in an area known for ticks, it may be helpful to not only treat your pets, but your outdoor area as well.
In an effort to reduce the tick numbers in your area, clear tall grasses and brush around your home and the edge of the lawn. If you live in a wooded area, place a 3-feet wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between the lawn and the wooded area. This can help restrict tick migration into your yard.
Giedt also suggests mowing the lawn on a regular basis and remove old furniture, mattresses or trash from the yard that could give ticks a place to hide.
Oklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local Governments Cooperating: The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, or status as a veteran, and is an equal opportunity employer.
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