It’s officially that time of the year once again. Ticks crawl the earth to find a warm-blooded host and maybe spread a cocktail of pathogens with a bite.
Don’t let them come home on you or your dogs – use a topical preventative (such as Frontline) according to the manufacturer’s recommendations (or ask your vet) – and be vigilant about doing a tick check every day.
Ticks are carriers of Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis and other nasty tick-borne diseases. A tick can carry several strains at the same time or none at all.
Regarding your canine or equine companions – be vigilant in seeking veterinary advice and support in the form of annual testing to screen for tick-borne diseases. The signs of tick-borne disease can be subtle flutters of weirdness that disappear.
Don’t be complacent, have your animals tested regularly and speak up if a pet seems “funny, not quite right, but I can’t put my finger on why.”
One of the most comprehensive sites for canines and tick-borne disease information resources is a labor of love by Gil Ash, who dedicates the effort to her beloved dogs, Thunder and Traveler. General references listings include how to be an advocate for your dogs; pain control; links to general veterinary reference websites, and articles by Dr. Tom Beckett, DVM. Comprehensive information compiled to help others is linked here – Google site https://sites.google.com/site/tickbornediseaseindogs/.
There is one clever tick removal device made in Connecticut – light, flat and is easy to carry in a wallet. The Tick Key is manufactured by Tick Key Products, LLC, Waterbury.
Recommendations from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to remove attached ticks:
Grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible. Use fine-tipped tweezers or notched tick extractor, and protect your fingers with a tissue, paper towel, or latex gloves (see figure on CDC site). Persons should avoid removing ticks with bare hands.
After removing the tick, thoroughly disinfect the bite site and wash your hands with soap and water.
Do not squeeze, crush, or puncture the body of the tick because its fluids may contain infectious organisms, including babesiosis, Lyme disease, and ehrlichiosis.
Note: Folklore remedies such as petroleum jelly or hot matches do little to encourage a tick to detach from skin. In fact, they may make matters worse by irritating and stimulating it to release additional saliva, increasing the chances of transmitting the pathogen.
Remember that cats who hunt outdoors may serve as a “tick bus” bringing them in to your home where ticks may hide in corners, carpets or bedding.
The best way to dispose of a tick is killing by alcohol. Use a pill bottle with a tight cap and keep it half full of alcohol in your vehicle and another one (or two) at home. Stay away from high grass and the edges of woods and piles of old leaves (especially near stone walls). Walkways through town can be perfect hunting grounds for ticks. There’s plenty of warm-blooded potential hosts moving by and those tall weeds that thrive near paved or graveled paths.