BE PREPARED FOR FLEA AND TICK SEASON (by Pauline Larsen)

tick-lifecycleIt is great to finally have some warm sunny days, but this also means the arrival of various bugs….most of them are harmless, but fleas and ticks are more than just nuisances. These blood sucking parasites bring considerable discomfort to your dog, and they can also cause painful skin problems that are tough to cure. If swallowed, fleas can transmit tapeworms, and although finding one flea on your dog may not seem like a big deal, one female flea can lay up to 50 eggs in one day. That’s a big deal!

The American Veterinary Medical Association reports that flea-related diseaseS account for more than a third of the total cases they treat in small companion animals, and urge responsible pet care givers to use flea and tick preventatives BEFORE they have a problem. For some reason, many caregivers seem to react to fleas AFTER the fact. They tend to treat pets when they see fleas, and then stop if they no longer see fleas. This philosophy only results in a frustrating ongoing cycle of re-infestation. There are many flea –tick preventatives, but they are not all safe. Millions of Americans purchase over-the-counter flea and tick products believing that they couldn’t be sold unless they were proven to be safe. Not so: some of them may contain harmful or toxic ingredients, so it is vital that you consult your veterinarian before using any preventative, and once the choice is made, be consistent in its application. Once a month means once EVERY month! If you forget a scheduled treatment, your animal is at risk.

Cat and DogIt is equally necessary to protect your dog (and you) from ticks. We have already removed more ticks from our dogs than we usually see during the entire summer, and ticks can carry and transmit several diseases including Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Fever, so it is important to use a vet-approved preventative, and give your dog a thorough DAILY body check. Although ticks do not burrow themselves under the skin, they have harpoon-like tools that they insert into the skin which allows them to suck blood from the host. Scientific research has determined that the use of petroleum jelly, alcohol, nail polish, etc. does NOT make the tick back out, and since ticks breathe only 3 or 4 times an hour, trying to smother them is totally ineffective. Rotating a tick will not release the tick from the skin since they have barbs, not threads. You cannot unscrew a tick. These nasty little creatures are tough and will not just die if they are left alone. They can live for months, even years . If you find a tick on your animal, understand that most ticks do not carry Lyme Disease, and tests have shown that, even if they are infected, they don’t begin transmitting the disease for at least 24 hours after attachment. This means that it is important to get any tick removed within the first 24 hours. You can use a pointed precision tweezers, but we have found an awesome little tool called TICKED OFF, a simple, inexpensive, easy to use, effective tick remover. It can be purchased in pet stores, directly from the company at 800-642-2485, or from their website at www.tickedoff.com . once you have removed a tick, don’t just toss it into the garbage (or even the toilet). Experts suggest putting the tick in alcohol to be sure you have killed it.

Ticks

Prevention of fleas and ticks is much easier than treatment. Talk to your vet about preventative measures, and how, by CONSISTENT implementation of some relatively easy strategies, you can protect everyone in your household, human and animal from these unwelcome parasites.

Larsen can be contacted at Paw Prints, Box 373, Newell, Iowa 50568 or by e-mail at plarsen@rconnect.com

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