As the weather warms, the ticks come out. Those pesky little eight-legged menaces are looking for warm, furry bodies to dig their little jaws into and potentially spread diseases like Lyme, Ehrlichia, Anaplasma, and Babesia. Now is the time to start making certain your animals are protected from diseases carried by ticks. Read on to learn how to prevent ticks and protect from disease.
There are many ways to help prevent ticks from ever reaching your beloved furry family members. Talking to any pest control service will yield a number of options that could help, but if you don’t want to use chemicals, then there are some good ways to help keep them at bay around your home. Of course, a fence around your yard helps to keep the wild animals who are carrying ticks off of your property.
Fence or no fence, You can minimize ticks in your yard by keeping the grass cut short and avoiding bushes around the outer perimeter. Adding a 3-foot-wide protective barrier of DRY wood chips around the perimeter of your yard can also help. These simple chores make it so that ticks aren’t attracted to your yard. Ticks like to hang out in cool, moist areas on the tips of long grass and wave their front legs around to hook onto an animal as it passes by. They can also find their way onto low hanging branches, and on the ends of bushes. Keeping everything neatly trimmed helps keep your yard an unattractive home for ticks.
Spraying your yard with essential oil-based bug repellents such as Wondercide Flea & Tick Spray for Yard + Garden can kill and repel fleas, ticks and mosquitos for a month or more, keeping your entire family safer. If you have local opossums, let them be. They LOVE eating ticks, so they’re great for tick control in your neighborhood.
When we leave our yard, we leave our ability to control the environment, and when we go for a hike or a stroll through a field, nature is truly the one in control.
To protect your furry friends, Longevity Veterinary Center encourages you to reduce the risk of tick attachment with flea/tick repellants. Here at LVC, we help you to determine the best options for your pet depending on his or her risk of tick exposure and your lifestyle. For pets who are mostly indoors and at low risk, a topical essential oil-based repellent such as Longevity Pet Peeve spray or AnimalEO’s products (Away, Evict, and Oust) applied a couple of times a week may be all they need. For pets who are frequent hikers in tick-heavy areas, those products may still be used, but some pets will need better tick control (and therefore lower risk of tick borne disease) with a combination approach of conventional topical flea/tick medicine plus alternative methods such as using a flea/tick tag (e.g. FleasGone), an oral food-based product such as “Bug Off” by Wildly Blended, and a healthy minimally processed diet. We generally do not recommend using a conventional and alternative topical together, since there isn’t enough research out there to determine how they interact.
Regardless of your prevention options, we recommend daily tick checks after any exposure to tall grass, known high risk areas such as the woods, and ideally after any time outdoors.
An important note - the Lyme vaccine ONLY protects against Lyme disease, and none of the many other diseases passed through tick bites. For that reason, tick prevention is the #1 goal.
Ticks can be difficult to completely remove once burrowed into the skin. You can always call us about scheduling an appointment for tick removal. Tick spoons or tick twisters are a wonderful addition to any first aid kit and can be very helpful in completely removing a tick with ease and without risk of exposing yourself to any tick illness. They make a wonderful keychain addition to your pet’s leash. You can find them online and in our office.
Tick disease testing
If your pet has been bitten by a tick, tick-borne disease testing with a blood test is recommended 4-6 weeks after the tick bite to check for Lyme disease and other common tick-borne infections. In the meantime, monitor your pet for lethargy (tiredness), poor appetite, bruising, limping, and other general signs of illness (anything that seems unusual for your pet).
There is also a wonderful website called www.tickreport.com, which is a fantastic resource for pets who have been bitten by a tick. For a small fee (as low as $50), you can send the removed tick to this laboratory test and they test the ticks themselves for disease so that we know exactly what may have gotten into your pet. (FYI, when a human is bit, you can send a tick to this site, but your insurance may cover testing of the tick through a lab if it is requested by your doctor). However, their funding has been inconsistent and they are sometimes furloughed. You can help keep this amazing resource active by donating here if you are interested: https://paypal.me/tickreport
Remember to take action against ticks and tick-borne illnesses this summer season. Schedule a visit to talk about your options. If you have questions about what tick control medications are safe for your animals, please call Longevity Veterinary Center today (973-606-1101).