Tuesday, November 11, 2014

It's tick season in most of Florida or other warm climates, how to deal with these beasts!

     Well for the Floridians reading this or other people in warmer climates, it's tick season.  It seems odd to me that we may fight fleas all summer, but although people tell me ticks are out in the summer,  I have never found a tick on one of my dogs or cats until it starts to become cool- always November.
      Since this is my blog and based on my experience, don't take it as vet advice.  This is my advice based on 40 years of working with and around dogs almost constantly.  So people just FREAK OUT OVER TICKS!! Yes, there is some merit to being not real happy when you find a tick on your cat or dog or even yourself.  And there are so many " ways to remove a tick safely" that it's almost funny.  There are plastic tick removers in pet stores now, so you don't have to touch the tick itself.  There are wives tales galore about how to kill and tick and make it let go. They range from putting Vaseline or rubbing alcohol on the tick to nail polish remover or putting a lit match to the tick!! These methods are more likely to make the tick regurgitate, spreading even more of its toxins into the body of your animal or you! I've removed hundreds or ticks and I use two methods.  One is to grasp the tick as close to the head as you an and pull straight out (yes with your bare hands- GASP),  The other way is to use a pair of tweezers and use the same method.  Don't twist or grab the tick where it's grey body is or you won't get the whole tick.
     If you are afraid of lyme disease or live in an area where ticks spread Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, keep the tick in a container and take it to your vet who can identify the species and either reassure you or put your animal on antibiotics. Now, here is something I have found interesting over the years.  Cats almost ALWAYS get ticks in two places- in the fur around their head and neck, and (sorry but you need to know this) on the cat's anus.  I've wondered and today it came to me why these make good places for ticks to go on a cat.  They are places a cat cannot reach with it's mouth to chew the tick away which is what the cat would do if it was on their body.  So each day in the fall, I pet my cats' heads and necks carefully and when they turn around I look at their heinies.  I will never forget the time one of my cats had five or six cats on her bum and my dear mother was here and she said, " Honey, I'm no wimp and that's miserable for Bella, so you get the tweezers, I'll hold and you get them off this poor baby."  Bella was hard to hold but she was tick free in the end. (no pun intended).
     Dogs and horses tend to get ticks in different places than cats.  Dogs tend to get them in folds of skin, like in the armpits or on their belly but a lot of the time they will be on the dog's face or body- ears as seen above are a favorite hideout for ticks, again, most of them are in places where the dog wouldn't be able to get them off themselves.  Horses- ticks go for the soft skin between the horses hind legs.  I once picked 53 ticks off of a gelding's scrotum and stomach after he was in an area that obviously was loaded with ticks.  This was not my horse, but a dear friend's and we counted as she took ticks off the other horse and between the two of us we got 80 something ticks.  WITH OUR BARE HANDS TOO! Didn't freak me out one bit, I was feeling too sorry for the horse.  Tick bites swell and itch worse than just about anything for an animal or a person.  It's truly miserable for animals.
     Ticks often leave a large swollen and hard bump on the skin where they bit the animal.  It feels like a knot under the skin and often has a scab around it.  This is an allergic reaction to the tick bite.  Some animals have this reaction and others don't. This lump should reduce in size as time goes by.  Cleaning it with Betadine Cleanser and applying antibiotic ointment may help but that's really if you are worried.  If the bump does not get smaller or it feels hot to the touch or the skin around it feels hot, take your animal to the vet, as the tick may have spread an infection into the animal's body and the pet will need antibiotics by mouth. Here is a mild example of the lumps or reddened areas left after the tick has been removed. You can actually see the hole where the  tick was attached.  There are so many products made to deter ticks and kill them before they become imbedded in your dog's skin for a long period of time. INVEST IN THESE PRODUCTS!!! There are some homemade sprays you can use on your dog or cat but you must spray them every single day and make sure you cover all the areas the ticks can burrow into.  The toxins in the products sold at pet stores are not as dangerous to your dog as the infections and even death that your dog or cat or horse can experience from a bad tick bite. Flush all ticks down the toilet and wash your hands (obviously) after removing the tick from your animals. And as always, if you are worried or concerned or scared to remove the tick, go see your vet.


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