Creepy, Crawly Critters

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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Our Regular Schedule

Monday:

7:00 am

6:00 pm

Tuesday:

7:00 am

6:00 pm

Wednesday:

7:00 am - 12:00 pm

2:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Thursday:

7:00

6:00

Friday:

7:00 am

6:00 pm

Saturday:

8:00 am

2:00 pm

Sunday:

Closed

Closed

Testimonials

Read What Our Clients Say

  • "Thanks for the great peace of mind when I bring Oreo in . . . I know he is always getting the most technically advanced treatment that veterinary medicine has to offer! Thanks so much . . . I trust my best friend in your hands! Thanks so much for all that you have done for us!

    You guys are the best pet clinic in the area--really!"
    Steve & "Oreo"
  • "Dr. Gonzales, thanks for making my life easy when it comes to bringing Hershey in to the see you! Although, I think he may have a crush! I am convinced it's a crush . . . or those treats are doggone divine! But how could any four-legged creature resist? In all seriousness, thanks for providing Hershey and me the finest. most complete pet care available . . . with a lot of love. I have seen a lot of vets in the past and your genuine love and care is truly rare."
    Jennifer & "Hershey"
  • "Thanks to the Drs and professional staff at Pets First Veterinary Center. I feel like you all truly love what you do! Every time I come in to see you, both me and my kitten have had such a pleasant experience. Everyone is so friendly and knowledgeable--I'm really impressed! Ever since I moved to San Antonio you have made me feel so welcome to the area and to your family."
    Jack & "Jill"
  • "Thanks Dr. Gonzales for your loving and professional care for our newest family member! We appreciate you and your staffs' genuine concern for all our pets for the past 10 years. We have always felt like we have been treated as part of the Pets First Veterinary Center family. Its so reassuring to know that we don't have to worry when we leave our dog for medical treatment or a boarding stay. Thank you so much!"
    The Johnson Family & "Magic"
  • "I think the world of Dr. Wright. Not only does she and team at Pets First Veterinary Center provide the best veterinary care possible, but also unmatched personal service and of course lots of love! I trust you with my most precious posessions...and refer all my friends and family to Pets First Veterinary Center.

    Thanks so much to all of you!"
    Maya, "Amor & Abrazo"