Ick, Ick, It’s a Tick!

I’m sure our veterinarian bloggers will agree with me, but parasites suck: literally and figuratively.

Flea and TicksGrowing up in the country, I was no stranger to ticks. My first horrifying experience was waking up one morning to find that a tick had fastened on to my eyebrow….a nightmarish experience for an 11-year-old girl. And we quickly found out that ticks loved to latch on to our pets. Finding a tick in your eyebrow was gross enough, but the first time I found a blood-engorged tick, the size of a small grape, on my dog’s ear, I nearly threw up.

I later found myself grossed out by the wee beasties in a college-level zoology class. I envisioned we’d be focusing on a lot on vertebrates – like the dogs and cats and horses I know and love – but found that the vast majority of life on this planet is of the invertebrate kind and spent months of staring at diagrams of things like sea cucumbers, grasshoppers, more repulsive worms than I care to remember, and arthropods, like spiders and ticks.

Ticks are more than a unpleasant nuisance. They carry a host of diseases, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis. Those diseases can be not only debilitating but fatal to our pets (and their owners).

When I was a girl, the routine was simple. We checked our dogs and cats nearly every day and if we found a tick, we removed it by hand or with tweezers, smashing the tick with a rock. It was time consuming and unpleasant, especially if a tick was “dug in”; removing the tick improperly can leave its mouthparts embedded and can cause infections at the site of the bite.

But times (thankfully) have changed and while ticks and other nasties still pose a threat to our pets, several products can help protect your dog and cat.

Nowadays, if you find a tick, you don’t have to touch it bare handed! SENTRY makes a nifty little tick remover. Made of tough plastic, the remover allows you to firmly grasp a tick without pulling or force. The design allows you to safely remove the tick, mouthparts and all, without squeezing or crushing the tick. Once you’ve removed the tick from your furry friend, you kill it by submerging the tick in soapy water or rubbing alcohol. Make sure your dog or cat doesn’t run the risk of infection by following up the removal of the pest by disinfecting the area and make sure you steer clear of disease by washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

You’ve heard it said a hundred times, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In this case, a squeeze-on treatment, formulated for the weight of your dog (or cat) will keep ticks at bay and keep both you and your furry family safe.

PetArmor kills ticks, as well as fleas and chewing lice. It uses fipronil, an active ingredient used in FRONTLINE® brand products, but it costs less! (And new PetArmor Plus IGR goes a step farther by incorporating an active ingredient that breaks the flea life cycle!)

Simply remember to weigh your dog to select the formulation for his size and make sure that you don’t use dog products on cats, or cat products on dogs. And, as always, read all directions and precautions before applying flea and tick products on your pets.

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