Hot off the press from the Home Alone September Newsletter
Tips for Tick Season
September marks the beginning of crisp and clear fall weather made for hiking, camping, and many other outdoor activities. But it’s also peak season for cat and dog ticks. So if you are going to be outside with your best friends, always check for pet ticks. These critters have a way of burrowing and burying deep into your pets' fur and can cause serious harm to your pets.
What you need to know about ticks
Ticks are parasitic arachnids, and for our intents and purposes, this means they have eight legs and that they live on the blood and tissue of their host animal. They live in wooded and grassy areas and hang out on the edge of leaves, twigs, and grasses, so that they can drop on a potential host as it passes by. (Deer trails and human hiking trails are favorite stalking grounds for common dog tick species.) They do not jump or fly. Once a tick lands on its potential host, it will try to travel to a warm, dark crevice—armpits, ears, and belly folds—to attach and feed. A tick attaches to its host via its mandibles (jaw) and inserts a feeding tube directly into the superficial capillaries. Because they attach with their head and jaw, they tend to burrow slightly beneath the skin, making it more difficult to remove them.
The dangers of common American deer and dog ticks
Beyond being a parasite, a tick has many other bad-news qualities. Namely, these bugs carry diseases that can cause serious illness and sometimes death for any kind of host, humans included. One of the big disease threats to your dog or cat is Lyme disease.
Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria carried by the American deer tick. Bacteria are transferred to the host during the bite and work their way through the host’s system. Not all American deer ticks carry the particular bacteria responsible for Lyme disease. However, if your dog or cat has been bitten by ticks, you should keep a close eye on your pet for symptoms of disease:
Loss of appetite
If you notice your dog or cat has been exhibiting these signs, take him to the vet immediately. The sooner your pet starts antibiotic treatment, the better his odds are of overcoming the disease with the least amount of complications.
Another dangerous tick disease is Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. It is carried by the American dog tick and is a serious danger to dogs and humans. Keep a close eye on your dog after you have removed a tick from his body and watch out for the same symptoms associated with Lyme disease. Do not hesitate to get your sick pooch to the vet if you suspect a tick-borne infection.
Checking your dog or cat for ticks
There is a similar protocol for checking both your cat and dog for ticks, but cats can be a little more challenging. To get started, pet your cat to get her comfortable and relaxed. This way, she’ll release her muscles and you can better manipulate her limbs to check in sensitive places, like armpits, where ticks love to hang out.
For cats and dogs:
Put on a pair of latex gloves. Humans are susceptible to infection from tick diseases, and taking this precaution helps protect you from illness.
Feel for small bumps and ridges all over your pet’s coat. Typically, you will first recognize a tick through touch. They are small, round, and smooth and most species have a hard exterior.
Examine the crevices between skin folds, especially under the arms and legs of your pet. Ticks love a warm, dark place to hide out and are likely to burrow into these places on your pet’s body. Don’t forget the area in and around their ears!
Pull back the fur around a suspicious area to inspect. Depending on length and thickness, you may have to go to more trouble to part the hair so you can see your pet’s skin. Shorthair dogs and cats are often the easiest pets to check.
Be thorough with your inspection. Get out a fine-tooth comb and go over every inch of your pet’s coat if you need to. It may be a bit of a chore, but it’s worth it—the longer a tick stays on a dog or cat increases the risk for disease transmission and infection.
How to remove a pet tick from your dog or cat
Take a deep breath and stay calm—steady hands are essential. You’ll need a pair of latex gloves, tweezers, some disinfectant, and a small jar with an airtight lid to store the tick after you’ve removed it.
Pull all of the fur back and away from the area where the tick has burrowed.
Use the tweezers and firmly and evenly grasp the tick body. Do not squeeze the tick at this point, you can easily crush the body and make it very difficult to remove the head.
Pull the tick out in a single vertical motion. Do not try to loosen the tick’s body or lift up at an angle.
Seal the tick in the airtight jar.
Swab the bite area on your pet with disinfectant.
Flush the tick down the toilet.
Disinfect the jar, tweezers, and gloves. Throw the gloves away after you have disinfected them.
Make sure you remove all of the bug’s body from your pet’s skin. If the tick is crushed or bisected, use the tweezers to draw out the head and legs, too. Remember that you are not trained to do this, and if removing the tick starts to feel precarious, call your vet. He or she will be able to tell you whether you need assistance. The same holds true for when your dog or cat has multiple ticks. Your vet can also inform you about the best tick repellants and medications for your pets.
Protecting yourself from pet ticks
The diseases that ticks carry are contagious and infectious to humans, and we can’t stress enough the importance of proper sanitation while you remove a tick from your cat or dog. Both Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever are devastating to humans and can be transmitted through contact with a tick that is carrying the disease. Even though not every tick is a carrier, you’ll best serve yourself and your household by exercising a high level of caution and sanitation.
One final note, September and May are peak tick seasons, and checking your dog, cat, and even your own family regularly is best to prevent tick-related complications. Run a thorough check over you, your dogs, and your gear before you come back inside from any nature excursion. This way you can often find stray ticks before they have attached and remove any shortly after they have latched on to feed. Don’t forget about the family cat, either. Make sure you check her routinely, especially if she is an indoor-outdoor cat.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Thursday, September 2, 2010
A little bit about the Breeders of Excellence Breeder's group. The Breeders of Excellence is a small group of 11 like-minded breeders who have come together in an effort to educate the public and to share with you our accomplishments, our knowledge of the breed, and some really great articles and information. Most of all, we want to share with you, pictures of our beautiful Cotons. Everyone loves to view pictures of darling little puppies, and what fun to see what they will look like as adults. The Breeders of Excellence is not a club and will never be a club, as there are no officers, no dues, no registrar and no members, except for our little group. Coton clubs have come and gone over the years for many different reasons. Politics maybe? Who really knows? We feel there is no place for another Coton club, but do think that sharing our beliefs and ethics and morals, can be a benefit to the Coton community in a very positive way. It's really all positive.
We hope you will enjoy our blog and our website. It was put together with lots of caring and so much love. This is what it's all about. Owning and loving a Coton is the most wonderful thing in the world. We hope we can put a smile on your face as you go through the many beautiful pictures and videos of the Coton de Tulear. Enjoy!