Veterinary Science: the dangers of ticks

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Now that the weather is beginning to improve it’s only natural that our wish for those long relaxing walks begins to grow with our equine companions. However, to avoid unpleasant health repercussions there is one thing that we need to be aware of: ticks.
Ticks present themselves as seemingly harmless, but in reality they are a real danger to horses and can often be a dangerous carrier and source of diseases.
The tick waits patiently for its victim on a tree branch, or a blade of grass, and is prepared to even wait whole seasons before striking. Once it attacks, the tick attaches itself to the head of its victim and begins to suck the blood until it swells or is removed by the horse or any other animal for that matter of fact.
The bite itself is not painful and usually goes unnoticed, but can cause dermatitis, inflammation, pain and soreness. Many are unaware that like the mosquito, the tick can be a vehicle of diseases, who stores these in the intestine.
The tick bite takes immediate effect, just like the mosquito, and absorbs the blood and releases toxins that enter the bloodstream. Not all ticks are disease carriers, and in less serious cases the animal is lucky to get away with just a rash in the affected area, but a single tick can carry up to 60 different diseases.
The one that has received the most attention is Lyme disease, discovered in the United States in 1975 and spread in just a few years. It’s a debilitating disease, which causes fatigue, weariness, and may be mistaken for the flu. The treatment is lengthy and costly and doesn’t always result with the complete elimination of the disease.
You should take care when out with your horse, avoid overgrown grassy areas and try to stay on clear paths. You should also avoid grazing areas with sheep where the presence of ticks is always very high. Further, protect the horse’s legs with pads to protect them from ticks and any undergrowth where ticks could be hiding. Always check the horse’s legs when you return from your walk for ticks or scratches. If you notice ticks remove them with a pair of tweezers immediately, remembering that if it is a female she will lay her eggs. Finally, for any questions or further queries please consult your vet.

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