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home : health : health May 26, 2018

5/15/2018 1:24:00 PM
It's flea and tick season in Sisters
Ollie loves going on trails. photo by Jodi Schneider McNamee
+ click to enlarge
Ollie loves going on trails. photo by Jodi Schneider McNamee

By Jodi Schneider McNamee

Spring seems to have finally arrived in Sisters. The little green buds on the trees outside have blossomed, daffodils have bloomed, and the air is getting warm. And along with spring come fleas and ticks.

Ticks are running rampant right now (see "Beware of ticks in Sisters forests," The Nugget, April 18, page 1). Protecting your furry friends against internal and external parasites (fleas and ticks) is important for their health.

You can find ticks throughout Sisters in wooded areas, near rivers, and where deer winter. And in Sisters folks love to hike in those areas with their dogs. Just the name tick can sound scary, and some of those parasites can cause Lyme disease. But what is a tick?

Ticks are not insects. They are arachnids, and like their relative the spider, they have eight legs when they reach adulthood. Life begins as an egg, and then ticks develop through different stages before reaching maturity.

Goudarz Molaei, a research scientist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, gets a little more specific: Ticks do not jump. They do not fly, and they do not drop from trees. To survive, ticks must eat the blood of mammals, birds, reptiles, or amphibians.

Pulling your socks over your pants while hiking can be enough to deter ticks when you're outside, but Rover probably doesn't wear clothing, so you'll need to take extra measures to protect him from these annoying pests.

The key to prevention is keeping your pooch from being exposed to ticks. Since ticks are found in grassy, wooded, and sandy areas, they find their way onto an animal by climbing to the top of a leaf, blade of grass, or short trees. Here they wait until their sensors detect an approaching mammal on the which to crawl or drop. Keeping your pets from thick underbrush reduces their exposure to ticks. Dogs should be kept on trails when walking with their pet parent.

Adult ticks are often visible to the naked eye, so you may spot them on short-haired dogs. But with longer-haired dogs, it's best to do a thorough inspection with a flea comb.

If you notice that a tick has already managed to latch on to your furry friend, you can remove the pest by using a pair of tweezers or a tick-removal tool by grabbing on to the insect and getting as close to the skin's surface as possible. Get a firm grip, but don't squeeze too tightly, and pull out slowly. Going too fast can result in part of the tick being left behind in your dog's skin. Once it's removed, don't just step on the tick. Placing it in rubbing alcohol is the most effective way to kill it, according to PetMD.

And if you've noticed that Rover has been scratching lately, fleas are a likely culprit.

Did you know that in her brief 50-day lifespan, a single flea can lay more than 2,000 eggs?

Fleas are insects that can start your dog scratching with just one bite. They have exceptional jumping skills, leaping vertically up to seven inches to hop on a host to feed and lay their eggs!

And fleas are masters of their universe. They can hide in a forest of pet hairs until your furry friend has more than just a couple.

And one way to check for fleas is to look for black specks on your furry friend or in his bed. The specks are fecal matter from adult fleas, and if you add the specks to a wet paper towel the particles will turn red.

There's a variety of products available to combat these pests, so ask your veterinarian which one is best for your dog. Start early, as preventing ticks and fleas from becoming a problem is far easier than dealing with a major flea infestation. Get into the habit of regularly checking your dog for ticks. Ticks are typically found around the head, on the ears, neck, chest and forelegs - although they can be found anywhere. Usually it is easier to find them by feeling for them instead of looking depending on how long your dog's coat is.

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