Ticks: Is your pet protected?

Tick infestation and disease transmission to your pet can be reduced in several ways. Most commonly used and recommended by veterinarians are topical or oral tick preventative products. Veterinary-prescribed tick preventatives are safe for pets while also effective in killing ticks and preventing them from transmitting infection.

By keeping ticks off your pet, you also reduce the risk of them bringing ticks into your home and exposing you and the other members of the family to disease. Ingredients in tick preventative products will vary and, because of the vast number of products available on the market, it is important to consult your veterinarian before selecting the right product for your pet. Your veterinarian will recommend the product that best suits your pet’s needs, depending on their health, lifestyle, and risk of tick exposure. These products are available in a variety of forms, such as collars, topically-applied liquids and even a recently-released, oral tick preventative.

At home

Many people will also have their lawns professionally sprayed to eliminate ticks. This method has proven very effective in reducing tick exposure around the home.

For people who live in wooded lots, the following steps will help make your yard less attractive to ticks:

• Clear the brush and tall grasses around the edge of your yard.

• Rake leaves and keep your lawn mowed.

• Remove old furniture and trash.

• Keep your firewood neatly stacked.

• Keep your patio furniture, children’s playgrounds, and dog houses in sunny places, away from trees and away from the edge of the yard.

The canine Lyme vaccine is safe and effective in helping to prevent Lyme disease in dogs, although minimizing exposure to ticks is still imperative. Remember, even if your dog gets vaccinated for Lyme disease, other ticks in your environment still may carry other diseases. So if you’re not taking steps to prevent exposure to ticks, you will not be effective in preventing tick-borne infections.

If you live in or routinely visit regions with large tick populations, or if you find ticks on yourself or on your pet, you are at risk of contracting a tick-borne infection. There is no single way to prevent these diseases in your pet, but if you take some of the measures outlined in this above, you will improve your chances of winning the war against ticks. At your next visit with your veterinarian, ask about recommendations for tick prevention. Remember that each pet is an individual and exposure to ticks varies by location and lifestyle. These factors will influence the recommendations that your veterinarian will make. In addition, many veterinary clinics and hospitals can perform a simple screening test in their exam room to aid in the earlier detection of tick-transmitted diseases.

As the weather continues to warm up and you spend more time outside with Fluffy and Fido, stay educated about your options in tick prevention and be sure to keep your furry friends protected!

A husband-and-wife veterinary team, Drs. Damian Battersby and Shelley Skopit own and operate Fairfield County’s Park Animal Hospital. The couple recently purchased the practice and its two locations in Norwalk and Darien. In addition to continuing to provide quality health care for dogs and cats, the couple has introduced healing arts services, which are offered by few veterinarians in the region. The couple resides in Wilton.

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