With the season of spring officially here, you may be thinking of all the fun outdoor activities that are hopefully coming up, from backyard BBQs to travel. One other thing that tends to come to the front of our minds in springtime are bugs – especially fleas, ticks, and mosquitos.

We’re focusing on ticks with this blog, since they are found everywhere and can transmit serious and even deadly disease to pets and humans.  

The Tick Problem

Ticks live in all 50 states and have been known to overwinter in sheds, garages, and even houses. They generally like moist, shady places in which to breed. To reduce tick habitat in your yard:

  • Remove leaf litter
  • Cut back tall grasses and brush around homes and walkways
  • Place wood chips and gravel borders between wooded areas and yard areas/ recreational spaces
  • Mow your lawn frequently
  • Stack wood neatly in a dry area, which prevents rodents from moving in
  • Deter wildlife from coming into your yard with fencing
  • Keep playground equipment and decks away from branches and bushes

Even with these precautions with your yard, if your pet spends time outdoors, they are at risk for picking up ticks. Once a tick bites your pet, it must be attached for 24-36 hours (depending on the disease) in order to transmit disease. So, it’s important to remove ticks before this can happen.

How to Check Your Pet For Ticks

  • Check your pets for ticks daily, and better yet, each time they go outside.
  • Run your fingers through your pet’s fur to feel for any small bumps
  • Part your pet’s fur with your hands to get a deep look at their skin.

In general, any part of your pet’s body that looks like a good hiding place, probably is! Here are some spots to check.

  • In and around the ears
  • Around the eyes
  • Under the collar
  • Under the front legs (armpits)
  • Between the back legs (groin)
  • Between the toes
  • Around and under the tail

If you do find a tick, remove it right away (we can show you how), and save the tick if it was imbedded, in case we need to send it for testing if your pet gets sick.

Prevention – Your Best Medicine

Knowing how to check your pet for ticks and how to remove them is important, as is yard maintenance. But another critical component of tick prevention is a monthly oral or topical medication. Tick medication is safe, effective, and inexpensive compared to treatment of tick borne disease such as Lyme disease. Cats and dogs require different medications, so never apply a tick medication prescribed for your dog to your cat as it could have deadly consequences.

If you have questions or concerns about ticks and how to check your pet for ticks please give your team at Highway Veterinary Hospital a call.