Pet parents should keep an eye out for ticks, especially if they or their dogs have been walking through high grass.
As spring gets under way, lingering cool temperatures in parts of the US provide no refuge against one of summer’s worst scourges—ticks.
May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month, and bug specialist Dr. Kirby Stafford is advising pet parents to be vigilant.
“Oh yeah, the ticks are coming in,” said Dr. Stafford, chief scientist at the Department of Entomology at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven, according to Patch.com. “They are out. Once temperatures hit even 40 degrees, the adult ticks will start moving.”
Every year, ticks sicken thousands of dogs, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The blood-sucking arachnids are vectors for Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis, and their bites can cause painful wounds.
Diseases caused by ticks can be fatal if they are not treated, according to experts at the ASPCA ®. Other complications can include
• Blood loss
• Tick paralysis
• Skin irritation and infection
Ticks, like this adult female western blacklegged tick, can cause serious illness, including Lyme disease in dogs and humans.
Keeping an eye out for ticks
It’s important to thoroughly check pets for ticks after a romp in the woods.
Though tiny, ticks are visible to the naked eye. They typically live in tall brush and grass, attaching themselves to passing hosts, including dogs and humans. The parasites prefer to feed on the head, neck, ears and feet, but they can hitch a ride on any part of the body.
If you spot a tick on yourself or your dog, the CDC recommends that you remove it as quickly as possible. Here are some tips:
• Do not touch the tick with your bare hands. Instead, protect yourself with a tissue or gloves.
• Using tweezers, pull the tick upward with steady, even pressure. To avoid leaving parts of the tick within the skin, do not twist or jerk the tick. You may have to remove the tick’s mouth parts from the skin.
• After removing the tick, clean and disinfect the wound and your hands.
• Check with your veterinarian if you have questions.
To find out more about ticks and the diseases they cause, visit the CDC’s website. Learn more about Lyme disease and dogs from the ASPCA.