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Why Tick Prevention is Important in Park Ridge

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Our area is a hotspot for ticks—including those that spread disease. Ticks can carry Lyme disease, Ehrlichia, anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, babesia, and many other diseases. According to the New Jersey Department of Health, cases of Lyme disease alone have risen dramatically with Bergen county with 303 reported human cases of Lyme in 2017. For dogs in Bergen county, the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) reported 1,621 (or about 1 in 13) positive cases of Lyme disease in 2018. For cats, the number tends to be much smaller since many cats are housebound. Furthermore, their high skin sensitivity helps them pick off ticks before they bite; but they still need protection! At Park Ridge Animal Hospital, we help people protect their pets from this dangerous parasite with tips for avoidance, prevention, and safe removal.

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Understanding What Makes Ticks Tick

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In order to practice proper tick prevention, we need to first understand how they operate. Ticks are arachnids—they do not fly or jump. They find their prey by “questing,” which means they crawl to the tips of grasses or leaves along common paths and wait for an animal or human to pass by. When our pet or one of us brushes up against the tick’s questing position, they quickly latch on. If they latch on to skin, some may bite right away, while others will take their time and look for a more opportune location to bite.

Preventing Tick Bites

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Ticks are not only present in the wilds of New Jersey; they can be as close as your own backyard! You do not have to be out hiking to encounter ticks, so it’s important to be aware of your pet's exposure and do your best to prevent any bites.

Here are some tips to help you do just that:

  • Be consistent with monthly tick preventatives. Your veterinarian can help you choose the best option for your pet. Common preventatives that protect against fleas and ticks include:
    • Bravecto oral or topical for both dogs and cats (lasts for 12 weeks)
    • Credelio oral for dogs (lasts 1 month)
    • Frontline Gold topical for dogs and cats (lasts 1 month)
    • Revolution Plus for cats (lasts 1 month)
  • When hiking, stick to the trails and stay in the center. While wandering off the beaten path can open up a world of adventure, it also puts you and your pet at greater risk of encountering ticks.
  • Check your dog (and yourself!) often for ticks while hiking and every time they come in from outside. The sooner you spot them, the sooner they can be removed.
  • Make sure all pets in your household are protected against fleas and ticks. You and any outdoor pets can carry ticks into the house which puts unprotected pets, such as indoor cats, also at risk.
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How Do I Remove A Tick?

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Even the best precautions can sometimes fail. If you do find a tick on your pet (or yourself), be sure to remove it as soon as possible. Tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, and anaplasmosis take several hours to be transmitted to their host after the bite. The sooner you remove the tick, the less of a risk there is of disease. Here is how to remove a tick safely:

  1. Protect yourself by covering your hands with latex or cleaning gloves so you don’t come into direct contact with the tick.
  2. Use fine tweezers or a tick removal tool to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible.
  3. Pull straight upwards in a steady, firm manner. Pulling too hard or twisting could cause the tick’s body to rip and the mouthparts to get stuck under the skin. After removal, gently wash the bite area with warm soapy water.
  4. Place the tick in a sealable container if you plan to bring it into the vet for identification. If not, flush it down the toilet.
  5. Monitor the bite area for signs of infection and watch your pet’s behavior closely. If there are any signs of illness following a tick bite, bring them to our animal hospital immediately for evaluation and treatment.
  6. If the tick you removed is engorged, consider testing your dog for tick-borne diseases. This testing should be done about 6 weeks after the tick bite.

If you don’t feel comfortable removing a tick yourself, bring your pet to us as soon as you can and we’ll be able to remove it for you. If you have any other questions or concerns about tick prevention and our preventative options, please contact us today at (201) 391-9494.

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