Sunday, March 18, 2007

Ticks and basset hounds

Our 1 year old basset hound Minnie is a tick "magnet". She goes for a walk everyday in a grassy/wooded area near our home and likes to check out all manner rodent holes and such. If we don't treat her with a flea and tick medication (see below) she comes home with ticks attached to her head or neck area. Spring and early summer are peak times where we live but others may see peak tick activity in mid to late summer.

Ticks (left) are related to spiders. Unlike spiders, however, ticks are ectoparasites of vertebrate animals. This means that they feed on the blood of animals ranging from snakes to mammals, including us and our pets. Like other blood-feeding invertebrates, for example mosquitoes, female ticks must get a blood meal in order to lay healthy eggs.

Also like mosquitoes, ticks can transmit some important human and pet diseases while feeding. Lyme Disease is spread by the bite of ticks as is Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and many others. Not all ticks carry disease but since some do you should take appropriate precautions with all tick bites.

First, remove ticks as soon as they are found on yourself or your pets. The proper "tick-removal" technique is important to avoid secondary infection of the bite site. See the tick removal article at 'Bugs for our suggestions.

Second, use repellents when you venture into areas where ticks are common especially during hot, dry times of the year. Ticks prefer areas with tall, grassy vegetation. DEET or picaridin-containing repellents are very effective against ticks. For pets some of the topically-applied flea and tick control medications are effective as well. We now treat Minnie with Frontline Top Spot every two to three months during "tick season" which is pretty much all year here in Oregon.

See the tick articles at 'Bugs for more information.

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