Ticks, Miniature Varmints

No, the image to the right is not a graphic design. You are looking at an actual tick larvae waiting to spread disease and discomfort to your pets.

Look at the size of those ticks! I practically need a magnifying glass to see them on the page. Who do immature ticks prefer to feed off? Immature ticks seek out small animals such as cats and small dogs. Are you able to say with confidence that under the hair of your pet, there is not an immature tick right now spreading disease to your cat or dog? Just because you do not see them does not mean they are not there spreading disease to your pet!

Tick-borne disease (disease spread by ticks) is one of the common illnesses I see in pets, yet many times caretakers are totally unaware their dog or cat has an issue. The reason is simple – look again at the small size. These ticks simply are very difficult to see under the hair of a pet.

So what is the big concern over a few small ticks on my pet?

Ticks are a major concern in Southwest Missouri. Not only do they cause trouble by the bite, irritation, and blood loss, but also from a number of diseases. In Southwest Missouri, the most common diseases are Ehrlichiosis, followed by Lyme Disease and Spotted Fever Rickettsiosis. The most common disease in cats is Cytauxzoonosis, known as Bobcat Fever.

Should I be concerned about where I live ?

According to entomologist Thomas Mather, Ph.D., director of the Center for Vector-Borne Diseases at the University of Rhode Island, it is a war zone out there. “Most people don’t see ticks. If they did — if they saw how many are waiting on twigs and sticks and leaves and in the brush – they would never go outside again.” (JAVMA Feb1,2020, Vol 256, #3 p 288). Ticks are everywhere in Southwest Missouri.

Commonly I am told that their dog or cat never gets ticks because they are checked regularly so they would be seen. The smudge you see on the picture to the right is not a dirt spot but an image of a tick. Often immature ticks are called seed ticks, but they spread disease just as their counterpart adult ticks do. It is very difficult to check an animal properly for ticks. It requires searching the entire body daily for something that may not be larger than the head of a pin.

These are three products that I consider safe for dogs: Simpicara, Nexgard, and Bravecto. In cats, there are two safe products, Revolution Plus, and Bravecto. Our preferred product control in both the dog and cat is Bravecto, because of its fast action in killing ticks and long duration of action on the pet.

Warning: Frontline and all the generic formulations of Frontline were outstanding products before the turn of the century for both fleas and ticks. Unfortunately, our ticks and fleas are resistant to its effect and could swim in Frontline without any concern. The other old product used sometimes in dogs still is Advantx. While Advantx will kill ticks (not as quick as the recommended products) Advantx is known to cause severe liver disease in some dogs so I shy away from it.

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