Sunday, 12 August 2018 13:56

Porky & Buddy Column: Keeping Zach Free of 'Creepy Crawlies'

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Dear Porky & Buddy: I read about this new tick, the East Asian tick, which has been found in New Jersey and Long Island and is thought to be heading north. I already have a lot of other stuff to worry about with my dog, Zack—fleas, rabies, dog flu. You name it. I worry about it. Should I be worried about this new tick too? Should I be doing anything different? Signed, Fred

Dear Fred,

Ick! Ticks! We try to be compassionate and level headed about all living things, including what we can only describe as the “creepy crawlies,” for lack of a better word, that live here with us. We know that they have their place in the ecosystem and they need to be respected. But ticks? Really?

That said, ALL ticks are a problem for animal lovers, or more specifically for lovers of any animal with blood, as they survive by attaching themselves to skin to suck out blood. Tick-borne diseases are a growing nationwide threat for both people and animals. They occur when infected ticks bite an animal or human and transmit the infection to the host.

With proper knowledge, you can help protect Zack from the threat of all ticks. And you job is basically the same for all ticks, from the most common to the exotic new ones. Prevention if possible, removal if necessary.

Ticks tend to hide out in tall grass or plants in wooded areas waiting for prospective hosts. When a host is found, the tick climbs on and attaches its mouthparts into the skin, beginning a blood meal. Once locked in place, the tick will not detach until its meal is complete.

On dogs, ticks often attach themselves in crevices and/or areas with little to no hair, typically in and around the ears, the areas where the insides of the legs meet the body, between the toes, and inside skin folds.

Most tick-borne diseases will take several hours to transmit to a host, so the sooner a tick is located and removed, the lower the risk of disease. (You can buy nifty and effective tick remover gizmos at any pet supply store and they work.)

The most important tick-borne diseases that affect dogs include ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, hepatozoonosis, babesiosis, bartonellosis, hemotropic mycoplasmosis, and Lyme disease. The symptoms of most of these tick-borne diseases include fever and lethargy. Some tick-borne diseases can also cause weakness, lameness, joint swelling and/or anemia. Signs may take days, weeks, or even months to appear. If you notice these or any other signs of illness in Zack, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible so that proper testing and necessary treatments can begin.

If you live in a region where ticks are found, and Oswego County is one of them, you should check Zack for ticks after coming in from the outdoors, especially if he has been in a wooded area. Ticks should be removed and then you need to watch Zack for signs of tick-borne illnesses. Your veterinarian may recommend blood testing to look for tick-borne diseases if Zack is showing signs of illness and has potential tick exposure.

Dogs at risk for ticks should be treated with some form of tick prevention. There are many tick prevention products on the market and new ones come out all the time. Ask your vet about the safest, most effective tick prevention products available. Be sure to use the tick prevention as directed. It's still important to check for ticks even if Zack is on prevention. If you start finding many attached ticks, it may mean the product is not working.

If you happen to be more of a cat person, the same advice applies. Speaking of which, application fees are WAIVED for all of the Oswego County Humane Society’s adult cats. Not because they are not already an incredible value, but just because they need homes. Take a look at the website or come on down to the office to meet some of the resident grownups.

Also speaking of which, come meet some of our cats for adoption at the Cat Café, Friday, August 17th from 2 to 6 at the OCHS office at 29 West Seneca Street, Oswego. Do it yourself snacks, adorable cats and kittens to romp with. No admission fee but bring a donation of cat food or litter for our food pantry.

The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County. Located at 29 West Seneca Street, Oswego, New York. Phone (315) 207-1070. Email: [email protected] Website: Because People and Pets Are Good for Each Other

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