Keeping pets out of grasses and wooded areas helps to reduce their exposure to ticks. Even with these precautions, it is easy for a tick to crawl on your pet when he or she is outside. Products that kill and repel ticks on your pet are needed.
Tick control in the environment usually involves treating the yard and kennel areas. Use environmentally safe products containing fenvalorate. Spray every 30 days during peak tick months. In southern California, these months are April through November. Do not spray where runoff could go into streams, lakes or rivers. Read the label on all insecticides and apply them as directed.
Cold weather does not kill ticks. In fact, that is when deer tick numbers are at their highest. In many parts of the country, the Sept., Oct., and Nov. months are when most humans and animals contract Lyme disease, since the deer tick is the primary carrier.
Removing leaves and clearing brush and tall grass from around the house and kennel areas can help reduce the number of ticks.
The brown dog tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus, is the most common tick in kennels and yards and is found almost everywhere. It can complete its life cycle in about 2 months, and, can become established indoors. If you do encounter an indoor tick problem, then use a flea and tick fogger. In houses, ticks tend to crawl to a higher area. They may be found in cracks around windows and doors. Since ticks crawl and do not jump or fly, another option is to apply a one foot barrier of insecticide such as flea and tick powder where the carpet meets the wall around the entire room. As a result, ticks moving to the walls to climb higher will come in contact with the insecticide and be killed.
- Ticks can’t fly or jump.
- They don’t feed often, but when they do they can acquire disease agents from one host and pass those disease agents to another host at a later feeding.
- Their sensory organs are complex and they can detect trace amounts of gases such as carbon dioxide produced by warm blooded animals. They can sense the potential host’s presence from long distances and even select their ambush site based upon their ability to identify paths that are well traveled.
- Infections that are transmitted from animals to humans are called zoonotic diseases. Lyme disease, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, and tularemia are examples of such diseases.
- Ticks have life cycles that involve three distinct life stages: larval (infant), nymph (immature), and adult (mature).
- The ticks known for the greatest quantity of disease infections are the Ixodes group. The group consists of many ticks but the ones of most concern are Ixodes scapolarius, Ixodes pacificus, Ixodes damini, and Ixodes ricionoiuse.
- Besides the body types associated with different tick species, each species has a distinguishing characteristic called a shield. The shield is an area just behind the mouth part and is a key part of tick identification.
- If you find a tick on your pet or on yourself, it is important to know how long the tick fed before you discovered it. Was the tick flat (meaning it attached recently) or engorged (meaning it had fed for an extended time)? Research conducted at Ohio State University has indicated that transmission of lyme disease begins at approximately 24 hours after tick attachment. Other diseases may vary.
How to remove a tick
To remove an attached tick, use a pair of fine tipped tweezers or a tick removal instrument. These devices allow you to remove the tick without squeezing the tick body. This is important, since you do not want to crush the tick and force harmful bacteria to leave the tick and enter the bloodstream.
Grab the tick by the head or mouth parts right where they enter the skin. Do not grasp the tick by the body.
Without jerking, pull firmly and steadily directly outward. Do not twist the tick as you are pulling.
Using methods such as applying petroleum jelly, a hot match, or alcohol will NOT cause the tick to “back out.” In fact, these irritants may cause the tick to deposit more disease carrying saliva into the wound.
After removing the tick, place it in a jar of alcohol to kill it. Ticks are not killed by flushing them down the toilet.
Clean the bite wound with a disinfectant. If you want to, apply a small amount of a triple antibiotic ointment.
Wash your hands thoroughly.
Once an embedded tick is manually removed, it is not uncommon for a welt and skin reaction to occur. Skin irritation is due to tick saliva deposited in the bite wound. See your veterinarian if you have any concerns.
Identifying common tick species
American Dog Tick (Dermacentor variabilis) Frequently found on humans and dogs during the spring and early summer. It plays no significant role in the transmission of lyme disease and babesiosis, but can transmit several other diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
Blacklegged Deer Tick (Ixodes scapularis) Note teardrop shape and relatively small size. Dorsal shield is blackish while the body is reddish-brown which fades to grey on engorged specimens.
Lone Star Tick (Amblyomma americanum) Often attaches in both its nymphal and adult stages to humans. Abundant in most regions of the U.S. This species can transmit several diseases including lyme disease and ehrlichiosis.