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For something so small, ticks can be a big threat to your pet’s health. Though certain geographical locations where once thought to be relatively safe from tick infestation, PetMD reports tick distribution varies with species and continues to change over time. No matter where you live, your pets are at risk for ticks.
Ticks are more than just an irritation; some transmit serious diseases, often within 48 hours after contact. Tick-borne diseases most commonly found in the U.S. include:
Symptoms of tick-borne diseases in pets usually begin to appear between seven to 21 days after being bit, and range from mild fatigue and fever to severe muscle pain, and even death. Yet, the health threat is not limited to the four-legged members of your family; some tick-borne diseases also spread to humans. The use of a topical tick preventive is the first step in protecting your dog or cat, but not the only one. Regularly checking your pets for ticks is an important part of keeping them healthy.
Carrington College’s veterinary program suggests tick checks should be done each time your pet comes in from the outdoors. If you have an active pet that goes outdoors several times a day that may not be possible, but looking for ticks takes only a few minutes and is easy to accomplish once every few days. Make the exam part of your regular grooming or petting time. Simply run your fingers over the animal’s body feeling for small bumps. Pay special attention to the “armpits,” the space between their toes, inside the ears and around the face and chin.
If you find a tick on your pet – don’t panic – follow the instructions in the Carrington College tick removal guide. You can safely remove a tick if you follow certain precautions as outlined below. Upon removal, make sure to monitor your pet for any signs of tick-borne disease and check the site of the tick bite for infection. Be sure to contact your veterinarian to schedule an exam for your pet.