Ticks are an unfortunate and inconvenient little insect. And an uncomfortable topic of discussion—somewhat disgusting little insects—but awareness of this little pest, and a little know-how in the methods by which you can check your animals for any sign of them is important. Important because ticks carry disease—although it’s important not to panic, because not every tick is a carrier for disease—and the diseases they can possibly transmit to both humans and animals can be debilitating. Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever are the most common, and your animals can contract and suffer the symptoms of these diseases. Because our K9 companions have such a dense coat, and many have oversized ears, ticks can easily use their barbed legs to cling to a dog’s fur, and then take up temporary residence within the dog’s fur or ears.
Now this doesn’t mean that you and your animals need to sit out the entire tick season on the couch—unfortunately ticks are active for most of the year, but have a peak of activity in spring and early summer (Before temps get too hot). But you should spend time performing some preventative maintenance with your animals. After a walk outside, especially if the animal has brushed past trees, bushes, and tall grass check the dog’s fur for any sign that he or she has picked up a hitchhiker. Ticks can hide anywhere beneath a dog’s fur, but common places include the ears, armpit, and beneath collars. You can use your hands to feel for any bumps beneath the dog’s fur, but also use a fur rake and rake the undercoat; fur rakes like the Furminator are terrific tools to both keep your pet’s fur clean and healthy, but also bur and insect free.
There are also devices/medications to keep your pet tick free. There are pills and topical shampoos that are meant to rid your dog’s coat of insects, even to prevent them from being the target of a tick’s bite.
Tick season is more about awareness than fear, so have a safe and enjoyable Spring season in the outdoors with your animal.