It's warm weather, and so we're seeing an upswing in parasites. Most of the ones we see are fleas and ticks. I've talked many times about flea control but haven't really discussed ticks. So let's do so!
Honestly, they freak me out a bit. Yes, that's strange coming from a vet, but they really do creep me out! I can't bring myself to touch them and always have to use instruments to remove them. Put me with a hissing cat or snapping dog and I'm okay, but don't make me touch a tick.
But in all seriousness ticks are pretty nasty critters and can carry some bad diseases. The most common ones I worry about are Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Each of these can cause serious illness and even long-term effects and have relatively vague symptoms so often are overlooked initially. Thankfully, most of these diseases can be effectively treated if caught early enough and don't have to be fatal. Also, studies have shown that ticks normally have to be attached for at least 18 hours before transmitting disease, so early removal is important.
So how to you prevent removal? There are many good tick preventions on the market, including Preventic collars, K9 Advantix, Vectra, and others. The best ingredients against ticks are permethrin and amitraz, so these are the ones I would look for. However, keep in mind that a single exposure to a tick-infested field or area can result in 600-800 ticks trying to attach! If a product is 99% protective, that means that you can still have almost 10 ticks attaching. So just because you still see a few, just realize how many you prevented.
What about if a tick does attach? Here are some hints on removing them.
* Grab the tick with tweezers or hemostats as close to the skin as possible. Fine-tipped tweezers work much better than blunt-tipped ones
* Pull it straight up with steady, even pressure
* Clean and disinfect the site after removal
* Don't twist, jerk, or crush the tick as you remove it
* Whatever you do, do NOT use a hot match or grease to remove it! Also avoid petroleum jelly, nail polish, or other substances. None of these work well and all can potentially cause harm.