What, Exactly, are Ticks?
First, a quick biology lesson about ticks. There are several species, including the deer tick, brown dog tick, American dog tick and blacklegged tick. They go through several very uncute stages: egg, larva, nymph and adult. Once they reach the nymph stage, ticks go searching for a blood meal to grow more, mate and lay eggs. Interesting fact: ticks can smell and sense animals and humans coming toward them! They wait, stretch out their legs – and climb on board their victim or drop out of trees onto them. Some, but not all, ticks carry infectious diseases that they can pass into the bloodstream of their unlucky victim. We’ve all heard of Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. But there are plenty of other diseases that pets – and their humans – can contract from ticks. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a very handy list of the diseases. All can have serious health consequences for dogs and cats. And according to our vet, Dr. Sasha Naugler, there are new diseases from ticks that are cropping up in the human and veterinarian arenas of awareness.
The best thing you can do if you want to avoid a tick nightmare is to protect your pet with a tick preventative product. We like Vet’s Best’s range of flea and tick products for dogs and cats. Not just because they repel ticks – they don’t like the smell! – and kill them on contact. But also because they use a blend of safe, natural and effective ingredients, including peppermint oil, cinnamon oil and clove extract, to do this.
What if it’s Too Late?
But what if your pet has had no tick protection? What do you do after you find a tick bite on your pet? The answer is simple: head to your vet. If ticks have been feeding off your furry best friend for longer than 24 hours, that’s enough time for them to have infected your pet. Don’t wait around to see signs that your pet has a tick-borne disease. It can take up to three weeks (or longer) after a tick bite for symptoms to appear. Signs to watch for include fever, lethargy, small spots on the skin or gums and decreased appetite, to name just a few. Cats may also have difficulty breathing. Dr. Naugler says your vet may do a test to see if your pet is positive for one of the tick-borne diseases. If your pet tests positive but doesn’t develop any clinical signs, they may never need treatment. Or they may develop problems later and need treatment. However, it’s all valuable information for your vet so they can continue to keep your pet well. If your pet does develop clinical signs, your pooch or kitty will likely need a long course of antibiotics to treat the infection.