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Creepy, Crawly Critters

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What To Do If You Find an Attached Tick on Your Pet

1.    Use fine tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible.      
2.    Pull upward with an even pull, do not twist or jerk, to increase the chance the tick will be detached intact.
3.    Clean the area with iodine scrub or soap and water.  You may also apply a topical antibiotic.
4.    Do not paint the tick with fingernail polish or anything else, and do not apply heat to the tick.
5.    Wash and disinfect your hands as disease transmission can occur even in this manner.

There are many parasites we need be concerned about that can affect our pets. Ticks are one of the most common and frightful. Most people shudder just at the thought of a tick, let alone finding one on their pet or in their house.  Unfortunately, the people who study these things tell us we should expect a large increase in the numbers of ticks.  Global warming and milder winters may be contributing to the surge of ticks, even to areas they may not have populated before.

Ticks are found worldwide, but tend to be found more in areas with warm, humid climates.  They are parasites that attach to mammals, birds, and occasionally reptiles and amphibians, and suck blood from their host.

There are four stages in the tick life cycle; each tick requires three hosts and takes at least one year to complete the cycle.  Each female tick can lay up to 3,000 eggs in the environment. Egg hatches and forms a larva which is very small, the size of a head of a pin, and it attaches usually to a small mammal or bird.  Once it is done feeding, it detaches, and molts in the environment to the next stage, the nymph.  The nymph then finds another, usually larger host to attach to and suck blood.  Once it is done, it detaches, and matures into the adult tick.  Adult ticks then need to find a suitable host.  They climb to the top of long grass, bushes, or other plants, and wait for a dog, cat, deer, cow, or any other animal to brush up against it.   Once on its host, it again bites the skin and feeds by drinking blood. 

There are many different species of ticks, but most, if not all, can carry diseases they can give to their host.  Common tick borne diseases are Lyme disease, Babesia, Ehrlichia, Anaplasmosis, tularemia, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.  All of these diseases can affect dogs, and many can occur in cats, people, and other species.  The eggs can be infected inside the female tick, so even the tiny larval tick can be infectious.

There are some things you can do to try to prevent ticks in your house and yard.  If you live in a more rural area, guinea fowl are great tick exterminators.  Just two birds can clear two acres in one year.  You can reduce the tick habitat by removing the leaf litter and clearing tall grass and brush.  Discourage any wildlife from entering your yard with fences.  If you live near woods, create a three foot wide barrier at the edge of your lawn with wood chips or gravel; ticks can't crawl across this.  You should check your pets daily and remove any ticks you find.

We have three chemicals that we use on pets that will kill ticks, but only one can be used on cats.  Fipronil, found in Frontline, can be used on dogs and cats.  Permethrin  has been used on dogs, but is very toxic to cats, you need to read labels and if it says "for dogs only", do not apply it to a cat as it will likely be lethal.  Amitraz will also kill ticks.  It is available for dogs only, in the form of a collar called Preventic.  This is very effective but you must make sure the dog can't eat the collar.  A new product by Merial called Certifect is a combination of fipronil and a low dose of amitraz.  This is for dogs only, is applied topically once monthly, and is very effective.

You should talk to your veterinarian about the tick diseases in your area.  There is a test kit your veterinarian can use in the clinic that will test for Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, and Ehrlichia at the same time your dog gets its annual heartworm test.  Your veterinarian can also discuss any treatments or preventatives from which your pet may benefit.

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Testimonials

  •           8/29/2017

    I love Balboa Pet Hospital! Balboa Pet Hospital's staff is amazing! The staff is knowledgeable, caring and above all honest! I feel confident that my pets are getting the best possible care there. The staff has always taken time to answer all of my questions and if I think of something after my appointment, I can just email! I know I won’t have to wait too long for response.

    Unfortunately, this year I’ve had to make some really difficult decisions. The compassion the staff showed to both my pet and I made these unbearable times tolerable. I am indebted to both Dr. Del Rosso and (the wonderful) Dr. Ravn for their kindness, compassion and dedication.

    If you are new to the area or just looking for a new vet, please give Balboa pet Hospital a call!

  •           6/5/2017

    LOVE everything about this place!!! The people are all super nice & caring. I never feel like they’re trying to sell me stuff I don’t need. The vets (especially Dr. Alice Chan) are wonderful, I always fee; comfortable coming here whenever Walle has an issue. They even help me file the insurance claims after each visit! Would highly recommended any pet owners to see them for their fur-baby needs.

  •           6/5/2017

    My dog has been a regular patient since 7 years ago. Once in a while we visit other hospitals due to time conflicts. However, we always go back to Balboa Pet Hospital. My dog has bad allergy and the doctors and assistants always follow up with us after the treatments or visits, help us submit the insurance claims. It’s not a cheapest place to go but their patience and caring are irreplaceable.

  •           4/28/2017

    I’m glad to have found Balboa Pet Hospital near my home. It’s definitely a hidden gem! Dr. Chan saw my dog, Oreo, for her skin problem last week, and my three cats, Pepper, Tofu and Cola, today for annual check-up. She’s very patient (especially with Oreo who’s shy to strangers), knowledgeable and approachable. The front staffs are also very friendly and helpful. They are so prompt to reply my email (within a few hours when I checked back my mailbox). All my pets are about 1-year-old and I’ll definitely bring them here for their health issues/checkup in many years followed.

  •           5/4/2017

    Brought my dog here for a checkup and some minor concerns. Dr. Chan was very professional. She got my dog the treatment he needed and answered all my questions regarding my concerns. The rest of the staff were very friendly and gentle with my dog. You could tell that the staff are genuine animal lovers; definitely something you want when you entrust the health of your pet to someone.

  •           5 of 5

    Been bringing our animals to Balboa for over 25 years and will continue because they provide great advice and care. We love Dr. D and staff are really helpful and friendly. Now if I can find medical care for myself like my animals get at Balboa...

  •           5 of 5

    I have been a patron of Balboa Pet Hospital for almost 500 years now (wink). I love Everybody there and feel they are have always been a great resource and the BEST support system for everything pertaining to my pets.

  •          

    The staff is very kind and gentle, the doctors are very caring and patient when dealing with my scared cat Lulu. I appreciate the time they took to put her at ease and making this procedure as painless as possible for the both of us. Will definitely be spreading the word. Thank you Balboa Pet Hospital.
     

    Linda P.

    San Francisco, CA

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