Ticks are ICK and they can make pets SICK!
Just thinking about ticks causes us to curl our toes, grit our teeth and makes our skin itch. We aren’t huge fans of these creepy crawlers for lots of reasons and more importantly, we desperately want to keep them away from our patients!
Ticks carry disease. Many people have heard of Lyme disease but ticks in Michigan carry lots of other diseases as well and can make our pets extremely ill. Although there are over 850 types of ticks, we have several common ticks in Michigan: the Deer Tick (aka the black legged tick), the American Dog tick (aka the Wood tick) and the Lone Star tick.
Have you ever heard of Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Hepatozoonosis or Babesiosis? Ticks in Michigan can carry and transmit all of these diseases to our pets! If you think pronouncing or spelling these diseases is bad, wait until your pet has one of them and your vet needs to treat them for it!
Signs of tick borne diseases in pets include fever, lethargy, decreased appetite, stiff/swollen/painful joints and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. In some cases, ticks can even cause paralysis. Tick borne diseases in pets are debilitating and can even be life-threatening.
Removal of a tick as soon as possible is ideal. If you are unable to get your pet to the vet right away, there are several online tutorials to train you to remove it on your own at home. The most important part of removing a tick, is making sure you remove the entire tick. Leaving behind part of it can lead to an abscess or localized skin infection at the site where the tick was removed. Once you have safely and completely removed the tick and cleaned the underlying bite wound with a gentle, mild cleanser, you can save the tick in a plastic bag (make sure it’s sealed tightly!). The tick can be submitted by your vet to the University lab to see if it was carrying any diseases that may have been transmitted to your pet. Many ticks have friends so make sure you or your vet fully examines your pet for other ticks left behind.
Checking your pet for ticks should be part of your daily (or at least weekly) routine. Run your hands throughout your pet’s entire coat and don’t forget to check inside the ears, between the toes, inside their armpits and around their face. If you are unsure if what you have found is a tick, wait for your vet before trying to remove it on your own. If you don’t see legs, it’s not a tick!
Tick prevention is crucial in the warm months in Michigan. Topical products such as Frontline Gold and oral products such as Nexgard can protect your pet from these unwelcome visitors. DePorre Veterinary Hospital also carries a flea/tick collar called Seresto that can be used in conjunction with a monthly prevention and provides extra protection for those patients who will be spending time in heavily wooded areas or areas known to be endemic to many ticks. Ask your vet what the safest, most effective tick prevention is for your pet and remember to use it as directed, every month during flea/tick season. We are here to help keep your pet protected from these little buggers so you can safely enjoy outdoor time together.