Spring has sprung and it seems like everyone is eager to get out in the sun—pets included! The staff at Woodland Veterinary Hospital loves the outdoors as well and encourages bonding and exercising with your pets! However, there are some cautions to be aware of while traversing the great outdoors, which leads us to the topic of ticks! We all know that fleas bite and cause skin irritation to dogs and cats, and ticks can inflict similar harm. But first, how does your pet even acquire a tick and how do you know it has become infested?!

Ticks, unlike fleas, do not jump. Instead, they climb up onto vegetation and wait until a mammal walks by, upon which they drop onto the animal and burrow into their fur. There are hundreds of species of ticks, but most have two main life stages of which to know—the nymph stage and the adult stage. Many of us are familiar with the appearance of a large, engorged adult tick that we can pluck off from our pet, but more dangerous are the small, younger ticks, the nymphs. Nymph ticks are harder to see and more likely to transmit diseases, so when combing your pet over after a tramp in the woods, pay close attention to any small, crawling bug.

Unfortunately, it is not the bite that worries veterinarians about ticks—it is the many infections that ticks carry that they can give to our pets. Ticks transmit many diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Canine Monocytic Ehrlichiosis. These diseases are not only harmful to your pet and expensive to treat, but they are also often life threatening.

To protect your pet and attain peace of mind, it is best to use a tick preventative that can be applied monthly. Some common options are products like Frontline, a topical liquid, and NexGard, a chewable tablet, which we carry in our hospital. Another way to help prevent tick parasitism is to examine your pet (and yourself!) after spending time in tick-infested environments.

For more information on ticks and the diseases they carry, feel free to talk to one of our veterinarians at your pet’s next physical exam. Technicians are also always available to answer questions on the phone.

Happy spring and happy adventuring!

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