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      Protect your pets from blood-sucking ticks

      Some local veterinarians are saying ticks seem to be exceptionally bad this season.

      "It seems it's been a bad year," Palo Duro Animal Hospital Veterinarian Dr. Robert Ballinger said. "We frequently have a lot of tick problems in this area. Really, we have more problems with ticks than with fleas. Typically, the flea problems will come a little later in the year."

      Ticks come in different shapes and sizes, but they all pose the same threats to dogs and cats. According to Dr. Ballinger, cats don't face as bad of problems with ticks because they are fastidious groomers. They are good at picking ticks off of themselves, where the longer hair on dogs give ticks and fleas more places to hide.

      "We will sometimes see ear ticks in cats," he pointed out, "but cats are pretty good about getting them off. Cats won't let them sit on there very long, typically."

      Dr. Ballinger recommends pet owners take immediate action in protecting their animals, such as spraying the yard and getting dogs on tick collars or topical liquids like Frontline or Vectra.

      "We have had a few cases in small animals that were heavily infested where they were life-threateningly anemic. We do have some tick-born diseases in this area- ehrlichia and anaplasma are commonly transmitted by ticks."

      If an animal is put on medication after it already has ticks, Dr. Ballinger said it could take a while for those ticks to die. But many medications keep more ticks from getting onto the animals.

      "They call it questing behavior," Dr. Ballinger added. "Ticks will get up on the grass, shrubbery, things like that. They will wait on that shrubbery for you or the dog to walk by."

      Healthy pets are happy pets- head to your local veterinarian and ask about the treatment that is best for your pet!