Share the facts with veterinary clients


Here's the truth about ticks.

While you are well-versed on tick truths, clients aren't pros at parasitology. Most of them will rely on you to tell them what they need to know to safeguard their pets.

What all clients should know: Ticks can cause a handful of diseases, and they can also cause anemia as they feed on blood and lymph. Irritation and itchiness may occur at the site of tick attachment, and the body will often produce a tick granuloma. The results of tick poisoning can range from localized inflammation or allergic hypersensitivity to paralysis or severe toxic reactions.

There are two ways that a tick will infest a host: The first, more common way, is via ambush. They climb into weeds, high grass, or other leafy vegetation and wait for a host to brush by. After sensing a host, the tick extends its forelegs and releases from the vegetation to attach to the host. The second technique is called the hunter strategy, in which the tick runs to the host animal. Some species of ticks attach themselves to the host's ear canal. Many of the ticks that infest dogs and cats will also attach to people and can transmit infections.

"Clients should know that there is the potential for disease transmission if the tick is allowed to feed for long periods of time," says Julie Mullins, staff training coordinator at Seaside Animal Care in Calabash, N.C. "However, if the tick is removed quickly or killed with preventive medicine, it greatly reduces the risk to the pet."

Symptoms of tick-borne illness include rash, fever, swollen joints, anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, and lack of energy. Different species are found in different parts of the country, and so the types of concerns vary by region. Use the regional information on these pages to identify the risks in your area and find tips to help clients learn how to protect their pets.

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