Long grasses in the fields, as well as summer hikes through the parks and woods, can lead to unwanted visitors hitching a ride home on our pets. Ticks are among the various bugs that are most prevalent at this time of year. These pests are not only annoying, but they can also spread disease through their bites.
According to the CDC.gov/ticks/avoid/on_pets.html dogs are especially susceptible to ticks and tick bites. There are several shampoos, dips, and collars available on the market today that deter ticks and other pests. Also available through your veterinarian are vaccinations that prevent Lyme disease.
Check with your pet’s veterinarian before applying any of these methods and always check the labels; do not use products labeled for dogs on cats and vice versa. In fact, the CDC cautions that “Cats are extremely sensitive to a variety of chemicals. Do not apply any tick prevention products to your cats without first asking your veterinarian!”
Many of the products available on the market help fight against tick bites and Lyme Disease; however, they cannot fully prevent ticks from landing on and hitching a ride with your pet. Anytime that you have been in areas where ticks are present, it is important to check your pet over to make sure that they haven’t been bitten, or that they are not carrying ticks into your home.
Groom over your pet’s fur, making sure to pay extra attention to areas that ticks tend to prefer: ears, eyelids, under the collar, tail, around the legs, and between the toes. Remove and safely dispose of any loose ticks that you find. If you do find a tick that has bitten and is latched on your pet, you will need to remove it as quickly as possible using these four easy steps from the CDC:
How to remove a tick
- Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
- Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
- After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
- Never crush a tick with your fingers. Dispose of a live tick by putting it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet.
This year the Washington State Department of Health is doing a survey on tick species in the area. They are asking that you save any ticks found in a hard container with a few blades of grass and send it in for identification and testing. The form for submission can be found at DPGazette.com/dohtickform .