Reports are already coming in that 2018 will be a terrible year for ticks. The best defense is to have a good offense. This is true, not just for pet owners, but also for residents in areas where ticks are present. It is crucial to prevent ticks in Massachusetts, as they feed on the blood of mammals, birds, and reptiles, spreading diseases like Lyme disease, Powassan virus, Borrelia miyamotoi, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, among others. While ticks cannot fly or jump, the attach themselves to animals or people that come in direct contact with them. They are good at positioning themselves in areas where people and animals frequent.
Deer ticks and dog ticks are found throughout Massachusetts. Lone Star ticks are also found in some places throughout the state. Many New Bedford pet owners and pet owners in the New England area try to use flea and tick treatment as a preventive measure. Unfortunately, many over-the-counter products sold at local pet stores have become less effective over the years. Our veterinarians at Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth, MA help you select products based on safety and efficacy for your pet. For more information, please ask about these products during your next check-up, give us a call, or stop by the office.
Black-Legged Ticks AKA Deer Ticks
These are the pests that are responsible for spreading Lyme disease, as well as many other serious illnesses. Both the young ticks, which are called nymphs, and the adult ticks will bite humans and pets. While the highest risk of these particular ticks is during the spring, summer, and fall seasons, there have been cases of adult ticks being out in the winter when the temperature gets above freezing. So when the snow starts to melt, and the people and pets come outdoors, the ticks are already on the prowl and ready to pounce. They can be difficult to detect, as they are the nymphs are just the size of a poppy seed and the adults are the size of a sesame seed.
Known as “dog ticks” because of their frequent discovery on dogs, these ticks are the ones that spread Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, as well as other diseases. Only the adult dog tick will bite humans, but the nymphs will bite your pets. The highest risk for dog ticks are the spring and summer seasons. They are bit easier to spot, as the adults are the size of a watermelon seed. However, they can still be difficult to detect on your pet, so it is important to check your pet regularly and prevent ticks in Massachusetts with flea and tick treatment.
Lone Star Ticks
According to the Massachusetts government website (www.mass.gov), Lone Star ticks are not currently a significant source of illness for humans, but they are capable of spreading several diseases and illnesses. The saliva of this tick can be irritating, but that does not always indicate that an infection has occurred. A curious side effect, exposure to Lone Star tick saliva has caused an allergic reaction to red meat in some individuals. Bites typically come from nymphs and adult female Lone Star ticks.
Check for Ticks Daily
The best thing that you can do as New Bedford pet owners is to check your pets and yourself for ticks every day. Check your children and your pets carefully, especially if they play outdoors frequently. Inside and behind the ears, along the hairline, the back of the neck, armpits, groin, legs, behind the knees, and between the toes are the most common sites. If you do locate a tick, try not to panic. Use a pair of very fine-pointed tweezers to grip the tick as close to your skin as possible and pull it straight out of the skin using very steady pressure. Never use suggested remedies from well-meaning friends and the internet, such as nail polish, the tip of a hot match, petroleum jelly, or kerosene. These are not effective ways to remove ticks, and they will most certainly result in some type of injury.
Notify your veterinary clinic in Dartmouth if your pet has a tick. Notify your personal physician if you found a tick on yourself or on a child. It is important to seek medical attention after a tick bite for both pets and humans. For pets, flea and tick treatments from your veterinarian’s office will be the most effective to prevent future bites. For humans, bug repellents that contain DEET are the best solution for exposed skin. Never use DEET products on infants and ask your doctor about recommended types of spray for young children. Permethrin is a product that is designed for use on clothes but make sure you follow the instructions on the product very carefully. If you live in or near a grassy or wooded area, make sure to have a strict routine on prevention and checking for ticks after going outdoors.
Visit Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth
When is the best time to get flea and tick treatment for your pet? As the weather continues to warm and spring actually begins to arrive, it’s best to get your pet, whether cat, dog, reptile, or bird, some type of preventive treatment. New Bedford pet owners and pet owners in the Southcoast area can make an appointment, stop by, or contact their vet at Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth. We can recommend the best options currently available to prevent ticks in Massachusetts at our veterinary clinic in Dartmouth. Call today at 508-996-3731 or stop by our location at 750 State Road in Dartmouth, MA.