NJVMA Cautions To Protect Your Pets From Warm Weather Parasites

HILLSBOROUGH–The New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association (NJVMA) warns pet owners that a mild winter and warm spring can prompt an increased risk of ticks and parasitic diseases for your pet.

“The most common tick-borne illness that we see is Lyme disease,” stated Dr. Kathleen Buckalew, veterinarian and member of the NJVMA Public Relations Committee. “Ticks also carry Erhlichia, Anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Cytauxzoonosis, Babesia and several other diseases. Some species of ticks produce a toxin that can cause paralysis in dogs,” she added.

While you should exercise precaution against ticks throughout the year, preventative measures should be practiced to a greater extent in the warmer months when ticks and pets are most active outside. Pets should be kept away from heavily wooded areas or tall grass and pet owners should consult with their veterinarian about tick control products.

“There are several topical tick repellants that are available and a couple of good tick collars. They are available at your veterinarian and over the counter,” Dr. Buckalew explained. “It would be best to ask your veterinarian which would be the best choice for your household. Only one of the available treatments is safe for cats,” she said.

Pets should be checked for ticks daily, particularly if they have an active outdoor lifestyle. If a tick is found, it should be carefully removed so as not to harm the pet. Despite common myths, ticks should not be burned, or removed with nail polish or any other potentially toxic substance.

“I think the easiest, safest way to remove a tick is to use a pair of tweezers and grasp the tick as close to the skin of the dog as possible and firmly pull the tick off,” advised Dr. Buckalew. “It is common for people to think that they left parts of the tick in the skin, but this rarely, if ever happens.”

If your pet shows signs of skin irritation, excessive scratching or has an indefinite number of ticks, it is best to visit your veterinarian.

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