In many parts of the country, spring is busting out all over. Temperatures are warming up, and we’re spending more time outdoors. This combination means: ticks. So for pet lovers, it’s time to double-check your safety steps to keep your pets—and you—free of ticks.
Dogs and cats can both get ticks and bring them into your home. Dogs are at special risk for tick bites and the diseases they carry. The Centers for Disease control warns that vaccines can’t keep dogs safe from these diseases, and little can keep your pets from bringing the ticks into your home.
So prevention is the best option:
- Talk to your vet about the most common diseases that ticks in your area carry, signs and symptoms, and how to prevent them.
- On your dogs, use a tick prevention product or chemical that repels them. But don’t’ be tempted to treat your cat this way. These chemicals can be dangerous to Fluffy. Talk to your vet before you treat your cat with any tick prevention product.
- Check your pets every day to see if they have ticks. Remove any right away. (See how, below.)
- If you can, clear out high grasses and shrubs where your pets roam.
- Check mainly on the head, shoulders and chest of your pet. Ticks have trouble crawling through dense fur. So they often end up staying right where they first arrive on your pet.
To remove a tick—on you or your pets:
- Use fine tweezers, and grab the tick as close to the skin as you can.
- Don’t twist or jerk the tick. Instead, pull it upward. Use even and steady pressure.
- If the tick’s mouth is still in the skin and you can’t remove it easily, leave it alone. Clean the area and let it heal.
- Kill the tick. Put it in alcohol, in a sealed bag or wrapped in tape, or flush it down the toilet. Mark your calendar with any dates a tick has bitten you or a pet. If you later see signs of a tick-borne disease, this information might be helpful.
- Don’t use nail polish, petroleum jelly or heat on the tick. Your goal is to remove it as quickly as possible, according to the US Centers for Disease Control.
For your safety, get to know what ticks are common in your area, and what the signs or symptoms are.