Here in New England, tick season usually starts in late April/early May, but with the mild winter and unseasonably warm spring we’ve been experiencing, they’ve been making their appearance earlier than ever.
Ticks are more than just a nuisance, since they can carry illnesses such as Lyme and other diseases. Two of the most common species encountered by pet owners in New England are the dog tick and the black-legged (deer) tick.
Deer ticks are the carriers of the dreaded Lyme disease, and up to 50% of the population are carriers. Some lesser known, but also equally serious diseases can be transmitted to your dog through a tick bite include ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis. Both of these diseases can also be contracted by humans through a tick bite.
The first defense against ticks is awareness. Whenever your dog goes outside or you and your dog go for a walk, be sure to do a thorough tick check of both of you and remove any ticks promptly. Ticks must be embedded for 24 hours to transmit the diseases, so removing ticks before they can bite virtually eliminates the risk of transmission. To remove a tick, grasp as close to the head as possible with tweezers or a tick removal tool, and pull it out. If the head remains embedded, don’t worry. The body’s defenses will work to expel the foreign object. Make sure to use a paper towel or gloves when handling the tick to avoid transmission of any diseases.
Preventative measures include keeping brush, long grass and other tick friendly habitat around your home to a minimum. Talk to your veterinarian about the choices and effectiveness of tick preventatives to find out which products would work best with your pet.
Another, more natural way to prevent ticks is by keeping poultry! If you live in an area that allows the keeping of chickens or other fowl, some free ranging chickens, turkeys, or especially guineas will find the ticks a tasty treat and gobble them up. The added plus is fresh eggs for you. Please be aware, however, that a crowing rooster or even a few guinea hens can make you quick enemies with neighbors close by, since they can be pretty noisy!
For more information on ticks and how to prevent them, please visit the websites below: