Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ticked Off!

It's tick season, which you already know if you have a dog or cat. Heck, you really don't even need a pet; I found a tick crawling across our sofa this week, just hiking along it seemed. I'm taking numerous ticks off the dogs I groom and I'm finding dead ticks regularly around the house where they've latched on to Grigri but fallen off after been killed by the tick preventive we use. Everyone I've talked to is having the same experience and we're ticked off!

A few suggestions for keeping your pets healthy during this trying season:

Dangers: Ticks carry some nasty diseases, even in New England. Both you and your dog or cat can be infected. Lyme's disease is the most well-known, but the entrancingly named Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and other conditions are also serious and can be fatal to a pet.

Tick Removal: Growing up on Cape Cod we picked a millions ticks off our dogs - this was long before the advent of tick prevention remedies (see below) - and there were several local strategies for getting the whole tick out. My family advocated using the tip of a burnt, but still hot, match to make the tick back out voluntarily. Others use petroleum jelly or nail polish to suffocate the tick. Research has shown that it's very difficult to get a tick to voluntarily "back out" and no folk method for doing so is effective; in fact, the longer the tick is left on the skin the higher the risk of infection so waiting for the tick to decide what to do is counter-productive. Quick removal should be your priority. Acarologists (people who study mites and ticks) recommend using a tool such as hemostats, high quality tweezers or any of several commercial tick removal tools to grasp and gently pull the tick away from the body. These tools are effective at grasping the ticks and also keep your hands free of tick saliva, which can infect you as well. An
analysis of several tools appears on the University of Ohio's web site. Whichever approach you use, inspect and remove ticks daily.

Tick Disposal: I was talking to my neighbor about the tick invasion yesterday and we got to talking about how to dispose of them once you get them off. In my family we favored flushing them down the toilet but I would feel guilty about using all that water now so I wrap them up in a tissue and squish them before throwing in the trash. My neighbor had a method I'd never heard of, which is to throw them into a bowl of water with a little dish detergent. The detergent acts as a surfactant and breaks down the surface tension in the bowl of water, allowing the ticks to sink and drown. Sounds neat and tidy but I don't know if it works.

Tick Prevention: Where we live on the Cape is prime tick territory. Surrounded by woods, brush and long grasses, we find it difficult to avoid them. Theoretically, if you stayed strictly on the paths and roads you could stay tick free because ticks cannot jump. They wait on grasses and shrubs and latch onto passersby as they brush past. The only sure fire method to keep your pets tick free is to use a specially formulated topical preventive such as Frontline or Advantix.

Aussie Pet Mobile has these products on board so be sure to ask your groomer if your fluffy friend needs his or her monthly application. We can take care of it for you at the end of a groom.

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