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Creepy, Crawly Critters

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What To Do If You Find an Attached Tick on Your Pet

1.    Use fine tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible.      
2.    Pull upward with an even pull, do not twist or jerk, to increase the chance the tick will be detached intact.
3.    Clean the area with iodine scrub or soap and water.  You may also apply a topical antibiotic.
4.    Do not paint the tick with fingernail polish or anything else, and do not apply heat to the tick.
5.    Wash and disinfect your hands as disease transmission can occur even in this manner.

There are many parasites we need be concerned about that can affect our pets. Ticks are one of the most common and frightful. Most people shudder just at the thought of a tick, let alone finding one on their pet or in their house.  Unfortunately, the people who study these things tell us we should expect a large increase in the numbers of ticks.  Global warming and milder winters may be contributing to the surge of ticks, even to areas they may not have populated before.

Ticks are found worldwide, but tend to be found more in areas with warm, humid climates.  They are parasites that attach to mammals, birds, and occasionally reptiles and amphibians, and suck blood from their host.

There are four stages in the tick life cycle; each tick requires three hosts and takes at least one year to complete the cycle.  Each female tick can lay up to 3,000 eggs in the environment. Egg hatches and forms a larva which is very small, the size of a head of a pin, and it attaches usually to a small mammal or bird.  Once it is done feeding, it detaches, and molts in the environment to the next stage, the nymph.  The nymph then finds another, usually larger host to attach to and suck blood.  Once it is done, it detaches, and matures into the adult tick.  Adult ticks then need to find a suitable host.  They climb to the top of long grass, bushes, or other plants, and wait for a dog, cat, deer, cow, or any other animal to brush up against it.   Once on its host, it again bites the skin and feeds by drinking blood. 

There are many different species of ticks, but most, if not all, can carry diseases they can give to their host.  Common tick borne diseases are Lyme disease, Babesia, Ehrlichia, Anaplasmosis, tularemia, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.  All of these diseases can affect dogs, and many can occur in cats, people, and other species.  The eggs can be infected inside the female tick, so even the tiny larval tick can be infectious.

There are some things you can do to try to prevent ticks in your house and yard.  If you live in a more rural area, guinea fowl are great tick exterminators.  Just two birds can clear two acres in one year.  You can reduce the tick habitat by removing the leaf litter and clearing tall grass and brush.  Discourage any wildlife from entering your yard with fences.  If you live near woods, create a three foot wide barrier at the edge of your lawn with wood chips or gravel; ticks can't crawl across this.  You should check your pets daily and remove any ticks you find.

We have three chemicals that we use on pets that will kill ticks, but only one can be used on cats.  Fipronil, found in Frontline, can be used on dogs and cats.  Permethrin  has been used on dogs, but is very toxic to cats, you need to read labels and if it says "for dogs only", do not apply it to a cat as it will likely be lethal.  Amitraz will also kill ticks.  It is available for dogs only, in the form of a collar called Preventic.  This is very effective but you must make sure the dog can't eat the collar.  A new product by Merial called Certifect is a combination of fipronil and a low dose of amitraz.  This is for dogs only, is applied topically once monthly, and is very effective.

You should talk to your veterinarian about the tick diseases in your area.  There is a test kit your veterinarian can use in the clinic that will test for Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, and Ehrlichia at the same time your dog gets its annual heartworm test.  Your veterinarian can also discuss any treatments or preventatives from which your pet may benefit.

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Office Hours

We are a walk-in hospital. This means we only schedule appointments for surgeries or boarding.  These are our normal walk-in hours:
Monday  9am-11am OR 3pm-7:30pm
Tuesday-Friday  9am-11am OR 3pm-5:30pm
Sat  8:30am-1:30pm
There is no Doctor available prior to 9am or between 11am-3pm Mon-Fri
There is no Doctor available prior to 8:30am on Saturday

Client Testimonial

"I'm SOOOO happy I remembered Dr. Leung,  he saved my angel from his allergy breakout. My 12 yr old baby broke out with a terrible rash that he kept scratching his face and leaving it bloody.  He was so uncomfortable I felt helpless. After a day my boy was feeling much better and doing great now. I'm very grateful for his health. I will return and share my experience with other pet owners."

Mariana L. of La Mirada,CA

"The staff here has gone above and beyond for my pets and my friend's pets. I always recommend them to anyone who's looking for a vet. It's a small spot, but don't let looks deceive you! They are the most caring vet staff and so caring to your concerns and needs. I adore Kim and always try to go when she's working. She's the most caring vet tech and I trust her 100% with my fur babies! Great spot, you won't regret coming here, can't say enough nice things about them"

 Natalie L. Of Costa Mesa

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