Tiny, gross and dangerous — these are just a few adjectives often used to describe everyone’s least favorite blood-sucking parasite, the tick.
While you’ll be seeing more of them this spring, truth is, it’s important to protect your pets from ticks all year long, even when there’s snow on the ground (like cockroaches and Cher, ticks have a knack for sticking around forever).
We asked the Connecticut Humane Society how to keep our pets safe from the pesky creatures who transmit the serious bacterial infection called Lyme disease, and the key is that it’s important to be vigilant.
Ticks can hitch a ride on you or your pet very easily, when you least expect it, and without either of you even feeling it, so do regular checks of yourself and your pet whenever you spend a good amount of time outside — and follow these handy tips from the humane society:
1. There are products that can help. Consult your veterinarian about tick preventatives like topical products or a Seresto collar, as well as the Lyme disease vaccination for dogs. Make sure your pets are always up-to-date on their preventatives and vaccinations.
2. Stick to a regular schedule with your tick preventative—it’s necessary to prevent bites. A tick preventative will only work if you apply it regularly and on the prescribed schedule. So plan ahead and make sure you have enough to last you a while and set reminders so you don’t forget.
3. Avoid walking in areas where ticks thrive. When possible, avoid walking your dog in the known tick-prone areas, the Humane Society says, including tall grass and fringe areas like the edge of woods (but know that ticks can pop up in plenty of other places, too).
4. Check your pet for ticks every time he or she comes inside. Behind and inside their ears, on their belly, on their snout — anywhere a tick can find a cozy place to feed. They prefer warm, moist areas on humans (like we said, gross!). Checking your pets, in turn, helps protect you, too — because a tick on them in your house is way too close for comfort.
5. If you find a tick, get it off quick! It’s important to remove a tick from your pet as soon as possible to mitigate risks of possible disease transmission, the Humane Society says. Use clean tweezers and gently grasp the head of the tick where it attaches to the skin. Pull slowly and don’t yank – or you risk breaking off part of the tick in your pet’s skin. Never use a hot match to remove a tick.
6. Know the symptoms of Lyme. Go to the vet if you notice fever, lameness and joint swelling in your pet because these could be symptoms of Lyme disease. If your pet is diagnosed with Lyme, it’s important to pursue treatment.
For more information about ticks and Lyme disease, visit lymedisease.org.
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