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24 Aug 2000

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Are Ticks Ticking Off Your Pets?

The tick, a relative of the spider, is a common external parasite. Ticks carry a number of diseases including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. They can cause serious health problems for both you and your pets. Tick infestations can be controlled with available products using an integrated program focusing on your pet, your home and yard.

A Little About Ticks
Ticks, a relative to the spider, are common external parasites. The brown dog tick is most common to dogs. There are several tick varieties, but it is not necessary to identify them in order to control them. The same active ingredients kill them all. They can be found almost anywhere and in almost any climate, but are most commonly found in damp places, grassy or bushy areas, wooded areas, sandy beaches, and places where infested pets have been. Ticks are most active during the spring, summer and early fall, but can survive temperatures below freezing.

Dangers to Pets
Dogs, cats and humans are commonly affected by ticks. Since dogs frequent the areas ticks live, they are the most affected. Many serious diseases can be transmitted through ticks: Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (Dog Tick), Lyme Disease (Deer Tick), Ehrlichiosis, Typhus, Tick Paralysis, and other disorders. There is a vaccine for Lyme disease, so you may want to ask your veterinarian if he or she recommends this for your pet.

Dangers to Humans
Humans can suffer many of the same diseases animals contract from ticks. Your pets are not able to pass along the disease to you. Rather, you must be in direct contact with the tick in order to contract any disease.

Controlling Ticks Around You and Your Pets
Ticks can be controlled with available products if you focus on eliminating ticks from your pets; making sure that you have killed any ticks that may be hiding in your home; and by treating your yard and NEARBY wooded areas. Also remember that many wild animals such as deer, field mice and even birds carry ticks. If you live in an area known for ticks, check your pets (particularly those that spend time outdoors) regularly and treat your yard and nearby woods frequently to control any new ticks.

To Stop the Tick Cycle:
Kill the ticks on the dog, in the house, and in the yard. Regular maintenance also helps to prevent their return.

On the Pet
Ticks like dark, tight spots, such as the inside of the ears, between the toes and foot pads, the armpit area, and under the tail, so pay special attention to these areas.

In the House
If you have ticks in your house, you will need to remove anything that may offer a hiding place, such as old boxes, newspapers, or stored firewood. Apply a product that gets under furniture and into cracks and crevices, paying special attention to baseboards, window and door frames, paneling and fireplaces. Foggers can be used, as well, for an overall general treatment.

In the Yard
Ticks are most commonly found in grassy or wooded areas, so cut back any tall grass around your house. They also like leaves and vegetation. Pay special attention to underbrush, doghouses and kennels, woodpiles and areas where your pet likes to rest. Since ticks crawl up vertical objects, treat not only the ground but up onto vertical surfaces three to four feet.

Prevention through Continued Maintenance
Products, such as collars, sprays and powders, allow you to provide continuous tick control. Also, lessen the chances of infestation by treating your pet prior to entering known tick areas.

Tick Removal
Since humans can get diseases from ticks, it is best not to remove the tick with your bare fingers. Use either tweezers or a tick removal instrument.

To safely remove a tick:

  1. Try using an alcohol swab, which may irritate the tick and cause it to loosen its grip.
  2. Grab the tick with the tweezers where the mouth enters the skin. Do not grab it by its body.
  3. With a slow steady pull, remove the whole tick without twisting it as you pull.
  4. Deposit the tick in alcohol to kill it.
  5. Clean the area with a disinfectant and apply an antibiotic.
  6. Wash your hands thoroughly.

Swelling and skin irritation may occur after the tick is removed. This is a reaction to the toxic saliva of the tick, not due to the head remaining in the wound (which rarely happens if you grasp the head of the tick during removal).

Don't do These Things!

  1. Do not try to remove a tick by burning it off. This is ineffective and may hurt your dog.
  2. Do not use petroleum jelly. This does not cause the tick to back out, and may actually cause the tick to deposit more disease-carrying saliva in the wound.
  3. Flushing a tick down the toilet will not kill it.
  4. Do not squash the tick with your fingers. The contents of the tick can transmit disease.
  5. How To Avoid Ticks

  6. Protect your pet with a prevention program. Use products designed specifically to repel ticks.
  7. Avoid woody or grassy tick habitats.
  8. Apply a repellent to your clothes and skin.
  9. Tuck your clothes in to reduce the amount of skin exposed.
  10. Do a tick check on your pet when returning from a place where ticks would be.
  11. Do a tick check on yourself. Wearing light colors will help you see ticks attached to your clothes.
  12. Remove ticks promptly.



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