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The Trouble With Ticks

May 1, 2020

Ticks are an annual challenge for pet parents. Every spring brings the risk of these pesky parasites finding a home on your furry friend, with mild winters making the problem show up even earlier.

Thankfully, there are several ways to protect your pet from these pests.

In fact, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) offers the following suggestions for keeping ticks where they belong… as far away from your pet as possible!

Reduce the Risk of Ticks

First, focus on the environment around you. There are many steps you can take to reduce the tick habitat in your yard, for example. These include:

  1. Remove leaf litter.
  2. Clear tall grasses and brush around homes and at the edge of lawns.
  3. Place a 3-ft wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to restrict tick migration into recreational areas.
  4. Mow the lawn frequently.
  5. Stack wood neatly and in a dry area (discourages rodents).
  6. Keep playground equipment, decks, and patios away from yard edges and trees.
  7. Discourage unwelcome animals (such as deer, raccoons, and stray dogs) from entering your yard by constructing fences.
  8. Remove old furniture, mattresses, or trash from the yard that may give ticks a place to hide.

Make Tick Checks Part of Your Routine

To reduce the chances that a tick will transmit disease to you or your pets:

  • Check your pets for ticks daily, especially after they spend time outdoors.
  • If you find a tick on your dog, remove it right away.
  • Ask your veterinarian to conduct a tick check at each exam.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about tickborne diseases in your area. (We are seeing three tickborne disease in the Cleveland area – Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, and Ehrlichiosis. While there is a Lyme vaccine for dogs that we recommend, there are no vaccines for the other two diseases.)
  • Talk with your veterinarian about using tick preventives on your pet. (Call us and we can make recommendations to you on what preventatives you should use to protect your pet.)

Safely Removing a Tick

Follow the steps below to safely remove a troublesome tick from your pet. You can also watch this video for a visual run through of the process.

  1. Use pointy tweezers,
  2. Disinfect the spot with rubbing alcohol,
  3. Grab the tick by the head or as close to the head as possible,
  4. Once you’ve grabbed the tick firmly between your pointy tweezer, the best method is to apply a slow, steady, upwards pull in order to avoid breaking the tick. Don’t be concerned if the tick head breaks off and remains in the skin. Tick-borne disease transmission is not possible without the tick’s body,
  5. Once the tick is removed disinfect the spot again with rubbing alcohol.

15 Unusual Facts about Ticks

  1. Ticks are part of the arachnid family and are related to spiders and scorpions.
  2. Worldwide there are about 850 tick species and about 200 tick species in the United States.
  3. The tick goes through 4 life stages – egg, larva, nymph, and adult. This chart shows the growth cycle of a variety of ticks.
  4. Ticks can live off of people, dogs, cats, mice, and other mammals. They can also live on birds and reptiles.
  5. A tick is capable of living without food up to 200 days.
  6. Some tick species can tolerate temperatures below freezing.
  7. Ticks feed on their host’s blood.
  8. Ticks don’t fly or jump and they don’t fall from trees
  9. Ticks normally wait for their victim on tall grass, shrubs, and deciduous trees. They crawl on to their host.
  10. Some tick species are capable of transmitting diseases such as Lyme disease, Ehrlichia, Anaplasmosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Left untreated some of these diseases can be deadly to your pet or even you. It takes about 24 hours to transmit disease from the tick to their host.
  11. In the northern United States the American Dog Tick and Deer Tick are two of the most common transmitters of disease to your pets and you.
  12. Ticks can lay up to 3000 eggs.
  13. Lyme disease is a major problem in the Northeast United States including Pennsylvania. (When Dr Fegan was helping a clinic in Pennsylvania, it wasn’t unusual for her to see multiple dogs infected with Lyme disease in a single day.) Over the past five years Big Creek Pet Hospital have been seeing more dogs infected with Lyme disease and other tick borne disease. This spring we have already seen a couple of infected dogs.
  14. Lyme disease is the only one that has a vaccine to protect your dog.
  15. According to a test done Rhode Island University’s TickEncounter, Deer Ticks can’t typically live in a house without a host for very long (less than 24 hours unless they are in a moist environment, such as a clothes hamper, then up to 2-3 days).

If you need more information about how to protect your pet from ticks around Cleveland and northeast Ohio, call us on (440) 234-5831 or click here to schedule an appointment online.