Tick-borne Diseases – What to know to prevent them from harming your domestic cats and dogs, and how they impact the animals at the Refuge 

Ticks are less common in Arkansas during the winter months; most populations die off during these months, especially when temperatures drop below 14 degrees Fahrenheit. During the warmer months, however, they begin to repopulate, bringing the risk of tick-borne diseases to people, cats, dogs, and the animals at the Refuge. 

Tick-borne diseases in dogs and cats are caused by various pathogens transmitted through the bites of infected ticks. Depending on the specific pathogen involved, these diseases can cause various symptoms and health problems. Some common tick-borne diseases in dogs and cats include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, parasites, and cytauxzoonosis (also known as Bobcat Fever).  

It is important to take measures during summer to prevent tick bites on our domestic companions. The easiest step is to limit the leaf litter in your yard and clean up the fallen leaves in autumn. This limits ideal habitats for ticks and some of their hosts, including smaller mammals like mice and small rodents. Some property owners may also choose to spray their yards. Over the years, more environmentally friendly treatments have become available, including eco-friendly repellents and housing animals that eat ticks, such as chickens, guinea fowl, and opossums. 

After your pets play outside, hike, or run in the woods, it is best to groom them frequently. Consider investing in a specialized comb or brush to catch ticks in the fur before they bite. You can also provide your pets with oral and topical medications that make ticks not want to bite them. Tick-borne diseases can also impact the animals at the Refuge. 

Bobcat fever can be fatal to both bobcats and tigers. With our native wild bobcat population in the forested areas surrounding the Refuge, our team focuses on tick prevention. This includes rigorous lawn care throughout the property to keep the grass short, limiting the type of habitat that ticks would thrive in. We also spray the habitats with deterrents and conduct daily visual checks on the animals. 

 

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