Ticks and Your Pets: How to Win the Battle This Summer

By Karin Krisher

TickTick Season 2012 is upon us, and that means we’re gearing up to keep our pets –and ourselves—safe.

You’ve probably heard by now that this year, the ticks are especially feisty and crawling through our fields in force. (That has a lot to do with the consistency of warm temperatures this year.) Ticks are pathogen carriers, and we humans are susceptible to at least 12 of their disease payload. The most well known of these is Lyme disease, which is carried by the black-legged and western black-legged ticks.

Ticks and Your Pets (At Home):

There are many options for mitigating the likelihood of contracting a tick bite.  Experts say that one of your first moves should be to protect your yard, working and play areas by ensuring that shrubbery is kept away from recreation. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends taking the following tick prevention steps:

  •           Clear tall grasses and brush around homes and at the edge of lawns.
  •           Place a 3-ft wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded
    areas and around patios and play equipment.
  •           Mow the lawn frequently and keep leaves raked.
  •           Stack wood neatly and in a dry area (discourages rodents that ticks feed on).
  •           Keep playground equipment, decks, and patios away from yard edges and
    trees and place them in a sunny location, if possible. Remove any old furniture,
    mattresses, or trash from the yard that may give ticks a place to hide.

Ticks and Your Pets (On the Move):

Landscaping techniques are great for your home, but what can we do to keep our dogs safe from ticks when we’re all out enjoying a walk through the neighborhood? Here are five tips.

  1. First, be sure your dog is healthy. Bring him or her to the vet. Ticks, like any parasitic creature, are likely to seek out animals with weaker immune systems. Support your dog’s immune system and overall health by bringing him or her to regular check-ups. There, your vet can also give you some great advice about tick protection.
  2. Buy a tick hook. While you might be able to remove a tick with tweezers, the pet industry has made it less of a pain. Many of these hooks don’t compress the tick’s stomach, so pathogens are less likely to be released.
  3. Check your dog. If he’s outside, he warrants a look. (Even if he’s inside, as you could carry a tick into the house unaware.) Some ticks are as small as poppy seeds. Run your hands over your dog in a methodical fashion, checking each spot, and examining any bumps. Use the tick hook if you have the unfortunate experience of finding one of these bloodsuckers. Dispose of the culprit in a sealed jar without any crushing.
  4. Check yourself. Generally, protect yourself with long clothing —but then check yourself. You can carry ticks, too. Do a thorough check after spending some time outdoors.
  5. Five words: Pet Naturals Flea + Tick. Available in a wipe or spray, this all-natural formula from certified, sustainable Brazilian forests combines oils to mask the allure of your dog’s scent.  Both delivery systems are easily portable for long hikes or vacations, and the formula can be rubbed on collars, bedding and other areas that will soak up the oils, so you can support his fighting chances without a chemical overload.

Ticks are on the move this year, and you should be, too. Act today to ensure your pets and your family are as far away from those little suckers as possible—without avoiding your favorite activities, of course.

Have you had a scary, near-tick experience? Tell us about it in a comment!

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