Spring is such a lovely time of year. The flowers are blooming, the birds are chirping, the bees are buzzing, and love is in the air. But lurking in the shadows is an eight-legged blood sucking vampire waiting to strike!
Ticks are on the prowl and they’re waiting for some unsuspecting animal or person to come strolling by. They are typically found in the tall grass or dangling from low-hanging branches waiting to latch onto a passerby. Once attached they literally sink their teeth in and let the blood flow. Most ticks will feed on blood for several days until they’re fat and happy and ready to lay thousands of eggs.
Northern Ohio tends to see two major waves of tick activity, primarily in the spring and the fall when the temperatures are mild and during the peak of wildlife activity. Many unfed ticks are smaller than the period at the end of this sentence. Ticks often go unnoticed on pets as they can easily hide under the hair coat until the become fully engorged.
The primary concern with ticks is the transmission of life-threatening diseases during their blood meal. Diseases currently found in Northern Ohio include Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and ehrlichiosis, with the dreaded Lyme disease starting to appear along the Ohio-Pennsylvania border. Visit the following website to see which diseases are prevalent in your neighborhood: http://www.capcvet.org/parasite-prevalence-maps/
If you find a tick attached to your pet, use a pair of tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and gently pull until the tick detaches. Once removed, contact your veterinarian for further guidance. Never burn the tick or place harsh chemicals (ie oil, Vaseline, light fluid, etc) on it as this forces them to burrow deeper into your pet. You may also inadvertently harm your pet during the process.
As with all parasites, prevention is the key. There are many tick preventatives on the market, work with your veterinarian to find a safe and effective product to keep your family safe.
Eric Brooks, DVM
Stow Kent Animal Hospital