Over the years, ticks have only grown in number. Warming climates mean ticks have a longer season to breed, grow, and prosper. In Glendale, Arizona, cases of tickborne illnesses in our pets, primarily dogs have risen in the past few years. In 2018, according to petsandparasites.org, 99 dogs were diagnosed with Lyme disease, 144 were diagnosed with anaplasmosis, and 841 were diagnosed with ehrlichiosis. These diseases are not contained to just our pets, people, especially children, are also at risk. To help protect your pet and your family, our animal hospital has gathered useful information about the ticks in and around Glendale, preventive measures you can take, and how to remove a tick you’ve found on your pet.
Ticks in Arizona
There are three tick species we can potentially come into contact with. These include:
- Brown Dog Tick – this is the most common tick in the area.
- Diseases transmitted: Rocky Mountain spotted fever and ehrlichiosis
- Western Blacklegged Tick – a much less common tick.
- Diseases transmitted: anaplasmosis and Lyme disease
- Rocky Mountain Wood Tick – a much less common tick.
- Diseases transmitted: Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Colorado tick fever, and tularemia
To provide efficient tick protection to your pet, there are several steps you can take:
- The surest way to prevent your pet from becoming infected is to keep their tick control medications (and other parasite controls medications) up-to-date. Your dog and cat typically need their preventative once a month, although some medications have a different timeframe.
- If your dog frequently comes with you on hiking adventures, it may be a good idea administer the Lyme vaccine. This vaccine protects them from one tickborne illness, though they are still susceptible to others without proper tick control medication.
- Treat your yard with effective tick repellants or pesticides. However, be sure to use these products according to the directions and keep your pet out of the area until it is safe.
- Clear your yard of tick-friendly spaces. Remove leaf litter, keep the grass mowed, clear any brush around your home and the edge of your lawn, and keep wild animals out with a fence or other kind of barrier.
Removing a Tick Safely from Your Pet
Whenever you and your pet are outdoors, it’s a good idea to check both them and yourself for ticks. If you do find one on your pet, remove it immediately. The longer it stays attached, the increased likelihood that it could transmit disease. To remove the tick, follow these steps:
- Use a fine-point tweezer. This avoids tear the tick and possibly spreading infections to the bite area.
- Spread your dog’s fur and use the tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible
- Pull straight up, in a slow, steady, gentle motion. This prevents the tick’s mouth from breaking off and remaining embedded in the skin.
- Immediately wash your hands after removing the tick and clean the bite area on your dog with rubbing alcohol. Also, remember to rinse the tweezers with disinfectant.
- Call your veterinarian for next steps. Depending on how long the tick was on your dog, it may be necessary to set up an appointment to test for disease.