Time to Talk about Ticks

Let’s talk about ticks! Our area is prime tick habitat with lots of leaf litter to overwinter under and an abundance of wildlife to serve as hosts. The most frequently encountered ticks in Missouri are the lone star tick, the American dog tick, the deer tick and brown dog tick.

As many people already know, ticks are blood-sucking parasites that attach themselves to animals and people. Once attached to a host, ticks feed rapidly. Once they are done feeding they will drop off the host to go through their next life cycle change or to reproduce. As they feed, ticks can transmit a large number of diseases, including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever(RMSF), Ehrlichiosis, and Lyme disease. It is worth mentioning that Lyme disease is not very common here in Missouri. Cats can get cytauxzoon (bobcat fever) from ticks.

The obvious sign of a tick infestation is the reoccurring presence of ticks on an animal and perhaps even on you. Animals that spend time outdoors, especially in wooded area and habitats with wild animals, are more often affected. But ticks are often found in urban areas as well. However, young ticks can be difficult to spot on pets and frequently get on a host, feed, and then get off the host before we even see them. Your pet is at risk for ticks if you live in Missouri!

Keeping animals away from tick-prone areas can help reduce exposure. If you are hiking; stay in the middle of the path. Keep your pets within the fence; do not allow them to roam freely in wooded and dense tall grass areas. Most ticks live in particular habitats, such as tall grass or the border between wooded areas and lawns. Treating your yard can reduce any ticks that are present, but does not have a long lasting effect and can be costly to continue applying treatments.

Ticks should be removed as soon as possible to minimize disease and damage. To do this, use tweezers to carefully grasp the tick close to the skin and pull gently. Never try to remove a tick with your bare hands, as some tick-borne diseases (Rocky Mountain spotted fever) can be immediately transmitted through breaks in your skin or contact with mucous membranes. Monitor any sites where you have removed ticks. If it turns red or swells; see your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Killing any ticks that get on your pets protects your pets and any humans they are around. Contact our clinic for a recommendation for the best tick control product for your pet. We have oral and topical options for dogs and cats. I would fail you if I did not make it very clear that ticks (and fleas) will still bite your pet but soon perish after taking in your animal’s blood. The oral monthly tick and flea products are the best option but do not a “repellant” effect.

If your pet is not already on a monthly tick and flea product; please contact our office and will be happy to assist you. 417-725-2386