Tick Precautions and Safety Tips for Dog Owners and Their Pets
Dogs Are Often Targeted by Ticks
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 about getting 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 grasses.
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 creatures), they are closely related to scorpions and spiders and belong to the arachnid family (eight-legged creatures). Perhaps they should be considered parasites. Avoiding them all together can be a difficult task, but knowing them better and the places they like to frequent may slightly reduce the chances of having one hop on you for a meal.
Where 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 steadily feed until they increase their size to double or even triple. 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 await on grasses for a mammal to pass by and then let go and crawl on the mammal as its body brushes against the tall grasses.
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:
- Lyme Disease
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
- Southern tick-associated rash illness
- Tick-borne relapsing fever
How to Avoid Ticks
The best way to avoid tick-borne diseases is to avoid tick habitats and remove them as soon possible. As mentioned previously, it is difficult to avoid ticks altogether especially when heading outdoors, however, there are some precautions that may lessen the chances of 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 may 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.
As seen, there are various ways to reduce ticks from your yard and lower the chances of disease, however, should you still get bit and develop symptoms, consult with your doctor immediately.
For Further Reading
- Why is Dog Flea Treatment not Working?
Why is your dog still scratching despite using flea products? Learn the possibilities and how to eradicate fleas once and for all from your home.
- Dog Health: Why Foxtails are a Threat to Your Dog
What dangers do foxtails pose to dogs? The answer is many! Learn what symptoms suggest these grass awns are embedding and why it is important to immediately see the vet.
- Rocky Mountain Fever in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms and T...
Rocky mountain fever in dogs Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a debilitating disease caused by a species of bacteria known as Rickettsia rickettsii. The American dog tick (Dermatocentor variabilis) and the Rocky mountain wood tick (Dermatocentor...