Pet owners, beware of ticks coming out early in the year

A dog infested with ticks was brought in to the Animal Rescue League of El Paso. (KFOX14/CBS4)

(Warning: pictures in this article may be graphic to some)

Ticks are becoming a big problem among Borderland pets.

Loretta Hyde with the Animal Rescue League of El Paso said the shelter’s exterminator has been getting an increase in calls about ticks.

Hyde received a dog at the shelter that was infested with them.

“The first caller was going to call Animal Services Las Cruces because it was in a New Mexico area. Next thing I know, this gentleman comes in with this puppy that’s covered in ticks,” Hyde said.

Hyde said it’s early in the year to already be seeing a spike in tick cases.

“I’m thinking, ‘Oh my goodness, it’s only March’ and all these animals are so infested with ticks this bad this early that we need tell the public that you need to start doing something now,” Hyde said.

She said people with pets should start treating their lawns to make sure pets are safe and healthy.

Hyde said the early infestations might be because the Borderland didn’t see much of a freeze and very little rain.

“The weather is allowing these guys to stay hibernating and boom, when the warm weather comes out, so do they,” Hyde said.

Ticks tend to hide in the dirt and walls.

“I don’t do wood dog houses just for that reason, because they lay their eggs and then every two weeks they have a hatching. You have to treat your lawn every two weeks until you are sure you have taken care of the infestation,” said Hyde.

Ticks cause ehrlichia, which is a blood disorder that can kill a dog if it is not treated.

Hyde said sometimes pet owners may not know their dogs have ehrlichia until it is too late.

Ehrlichia attacks the organs. Hundreds can get on a dog in a matter of hours, Hyde said.

“It’s a horrible disease,” she said.

If caught early, however, it can be treated.

The tick-infested dog Hyde received will need several treatments to be rid of the parasites.

The man who brought the dog in wants to keep the dog once it is tick-free. Hyde said he didn’t know how to deal with such a big infestation.

Hyde said it’s one of the worst cases she has seen.

It’s important to get going with the preventive measures for ticks and fleas.

According to Hyde, the quicker pet owners begin those preventive measures, the safer the pets will be.

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