It’s officially here: tick season. Veterinarians have anecdotally reported to The Fur-Bearers that dogs they’ve treated are arriving with the blood sucking arachnids attached, and our colleagues in the field have started taking steps to prevent bites after seeing the insects in tall grass and on other plants.
Blacklegged ticks (also called deer ticks) are common throughout Canada and the United States, and can, but don’t always, spread bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi, which causes Lyme disease. Both humans and dogs can be infected and become symptomatic.
Prevention of tick bites, however, is a simple matter, and removing ticks from pets can reduce the risk of disease (and, if you’re like many of us, the ickyness of an engorged tick on your furry best friend).
To prevent tick bites on yourself or your family members, the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation recommends these five tips:
- Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts. Tuck your pants into your socks to prevent ticks from getting inside your pants.
- Check your clothes for ticks often. Ticks will climb upwards until they find an area of exposed skin.
- Wear light coloured clothing to make it easier to spot ticks.
- Walk on pathways or trails when possible staying in the middle. Avoid low-lying brush or long grass.
- Apply insect repellent to your skin and clothing, especially at the openings such as ankle, wrist and neck.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States recommends these five tips to keep your pets free of ticks:
- Check your pets for ticks daily, especially after they spend time outdoors.
- If you find a tick on your dog, remove it right away.
- Ask your veterinarian to conduct a tick check at each exam.
- Talk to your veterinarian about tickborne diseases in your area.
- Reduce tick habitat in your yard.
How to safely remove ticks from your body (if you’d rather just see a drawing, click here)
We should also remember that local wildlife, particularly possums, are our tick-eating friends that can help reduce the risks of Lyme disease for everyone. Just another reason to love the wildlife with whom we share our communities! These tips should help you stay safe and enjoy the great outdoors with your family and pets.