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Tick Precautions and Safety Tips for Dog Owners and Their Pets

Adrienne is a certified dog trainer and former veterinarian assistant who partners with some of the best veterinarians worldwide.

Ticks love to latch onto dogs as they brush through the grass.

Ticks love to latch onto dogs as they brush through the grass.

Little Laura Ingalls used to run happily through the tall grasses in the "Little House in the Prairie" along with her dog Jack, but what did they do about ticks? These blood-sucking creatures are vectors of various diseases and are certainly a nuisance that can ruin the best summer outings.

They can pop up when you least expect it, whether you are enjoying a picnic, playing with your kids in a park, or hiking a trail. They can ruin your bond with your dog (who likes to pet a dog with ticks on him on a daily basis?), the pleasure of camping, and the pure joy of running through tall grass.

Preventing tick-borne diseases can be an arduous task. It really comes down to the fact that ticks are hardy creatures that can live up to a year without feeding and hide in the most secretive places.

While most people may think a tick is an insect (six-legged creature), they are actually more closely related to scorpions and spiders and belong to the arachnid class (eight-legged creatures).

Avoiding them altogether can be a difficult task, but knowing them and the places they like to frequent may slightly reduce the chances of having one hop on you or your dog for a meal.

Where Do Ticks Thrive?

The best place for a tick is, of course, feeding on the warm blood of a mammal. They are pretty eager creatures that will feed steadily until they double or even triple their size. When not on a mammal, they will be found in tall grasses, bushes, trees, wooded areas, and even crevices of homes.

Ticks cannot fly or jump; rather, they patiently wait on grasses for a mammal to pass by and then let go and crawl onto the mammal's body as it brushes by.

Tick-Borne Diseases

While there are over 800 types of ticks in the wild, only a few are capable of causing tick-borne diseases. According to the CDC, the most common diseases transmitted by ticks are as follows:

  • Babesiosis
  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Lyme disease
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF)
  • Southern tick-associated rash illness
  • Tick-borne relapsing fever
  • Tularemia

How to Avoid Ticks

The best way to avoid tick-borne diseases is to avoid tick habitats and remove them as soon as possible. As mentioned previously, it is difficult to avoid ticks altogether, especially when heading outdoors. However, there are some precautions that may lower the chances of you or your dog becoming a host:

  • As obvious as it sounds, avoid areas where ticks thrive.
  • Be cautious during tick season (typically from spring to November).
  • Wear white clothing so the dark color of a tick will be more visible.
  • Wear your socks over your pants so it is harder for ticks to crawl up your pants.
  • Tuck your shirt into your pants.
  • Wear long pants and long sleeves.
  • Use tick repellents.
  • Check your body frequently for ticks and remove them promptly. Lyme disease is more likely when the tick has been attached for 24–48 hours.
  • Put possible tick-infested clothing in the dryer for one hour prior to washing. Ticks have been found to survive on washed laundry.
  • Adopt a Guinea Fowl hen. These birds are effective tick eaters.
  • Put your pets on topical, veterinarian-approved tick repellents such as Frontline Plus and/or Preventic tick collar.
  • Should you get bit by a tick, do not discard it; put it in a jar of rubbing alcohol labeled with the date just in case you experience any symptoms.

Recommended for You

As seen, there are various ways to reduce ticks from your yard and lower the chances of disease. Should you get bit and develop symptoms, consult with your doctor immediately.

Dogs can easily pick up ticks as they spend time in grassy areas.

Dogs can easily pick up ticks as they spend time in grassy areas.

Further Reading

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Comments

Gypsy Willow from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand on June 27, 2009:

Thanks for researching that answer :)

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 26, 2009:

Very good question, of which I did not know the answer :) but according to

http://health.yahoo.com/infectiousdisease-causes/h...

''Ticks, fleas, mosquitoes, and other biting insects are not known to carry or spread hantaviruses. In the U.S., cats and dogs are not known to be carriers of hantavirus. Guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, and other similar pets also are not known to carry hantaviruses.''

Happy I do not have to add another disease to the list of tick borne disease, I think we have enough! :)

Gypsy Willow from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand on June 26, 2009:

Useful advice thanks, can they transmit hanta virus if they have previosly been on mice?

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