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Posted on 12-16-2011
Most of us do not think about ticks once the weather starts to cool. However, ticks can be out all year long, as long as the temperature is above freezing. Ticks can present a serious health risk to pets as well as humans.
The most common problem that we associate with ticks is Lyme disease. There are of course other tick born diseases such as Ehrlichia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Anaplasmosis. Ticks need to be attached for 24 - 48 hrs to transmit disease. That is why we at Eagle Animal Hospital recommend that you check yourself as well as your pet every time you are outside. We also recommend a topical flea and tick preventative, such as VECTRA3D.
There are three stages to the life cycle of ticks. In the spring a small six legged larva will hatch. It will then find a small animal host as soon as possible. If the host is carrying Lyme then the larva will get infected as well.
The larva will stay dormant until the following spring. The larva will molt and then enter the nymph stage. The nymph is larger and It will then have eight legs. The nymph will feed on a new host (potentially your pet) for 3-5 days until it is full. It will then drop off and remain dormant until late summer. If the tick has had Lyme from the larval stage then it may have infected the new host. This will also be another chance for the tick to get infected, if it wasn't already.
Adult ticks will seek out a new host (your pet, again) to mate, feed, and possibly transmit Lyme. The female, once engorged will drop off, hide under leaves and debris through out the winter, and then in the spring she will lay approximately 2000 eggs.
Removing a tick correctly is important for you and your pet. The best way to remove a tick is to use small tweezers so that you can get as close to your pet's skin as possible. Pull slow and steady to remove the head. Never use hot matches, nail polish, turpentine or petroleum jelly to remove a tick. Not only are these methods not safe for your pet but they do not work. If you do not have tweezers, you can remove them with your fingers. Washing your hands after contact is advised and if you wish to be completely safe, gloves can be used since ticks carry diseases in their blood.
Once a tick is removed, they can be killed by placing them in alcohol. The site of tick removal can also get infected. Cleaning the area with alcohol and applying some over-the-counter triple antibiotic ointment can help. If you see signs of infection or are concerned, please give our office a call. We serve Exton, Downingtown, Glenmoore and Chester Springs.
Written by Harriet Band, veterinary receptionist at Eagle Animal Hospital
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