Most of us love the warm weather during summer. Unfortunately, so do many pests. With the spring season well underway, so too is tick season. Ticks are nasty little parasites that carry many diseases.
Lyme disease is the most talked about of all the tick-borne infections. If bitten by an infected tick, it usually takes two to five months for symptoms to start appearing. These symptoms include fever, swollen lymph nodes, joint swelling, and loss of appetite. Veterinarians can test to see if your pet has been exposed to or is infected with Lyme disease.
Babesiosis is another common infection, particularly in the southern United States. Symptoms range from mild to very severe and include: weakness, pale gums and tongue, orange/red urine, jaundice, and discolored stool. A severe infection can affect multiple organ systems.
The final disease is ehrlichiosis. The symptoms for this disease are like the ones above, except for couple of unique ones. These unique ones are nosebleeds and unexplained bruising.
Fortunately, there are some easy steps to take to avoid tick-borne infections.
At least daily, look over your dog to check for ticks. Make sure to check in areas such as the ear flaps, the undersides of the feet, and in-between the toes when doing this.
Make an appointment with your vet to discuss the best tick prevention products for your pet. This is a rapidly changing field, and strategies should sometimes be customized. Don’t rely on these only, though. While they do greatly reduce the chances of tick bites, they are not 100 percent failsafe. Keeping your dog as healthy as possible also reduces his or her appeal to ticks and other parasites.
Finally, if he or she does get bit by a tick, be sure to use caution when removing it. Try not to use your bare hands as that leaves you vulnerable to infections. Wear gloves or use tweezers when removing ticks. Also, be sure to disinfect the area of the bite with soapy water or diluted betadine. Then keep a watch over the area to make sure it didn’t get infected.
If a tick does get a blood meal from your pet, it’s a good idea to have your pet screened for tick-related illnesses. Wait three to four weeks after the bite, and have them tested. Be sure that it’s no earlier than three weeks, as many of these illnesses have dormant periods. There would be some time before they would show up on a test.