Every year as we trudge through tick season our guard is up and we are out to protect ourselves and our pets from these nasty little creatures. In general, tick season usually runs from early spring, into the summer and winds down in the fall. However, did you know that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has predicted that 2017 will be one of the worst years on record? This is especially important for dog owners because our pups are at risk for picking up ticks and the potential diseases these critters carry. Let’s take a look at some of the vital information that will get us all through this tick season safely!
There are several contributing factors as to why this season will be so bad. For starters, the northeastern United States had a fairly mild winter which means that more ticks will survived and reproduced. Also, the animals that ticks rely on for food sources (like mice, deer, squirells etc.) will be more available. These 2 factors alone are reason enough to see a huge increase in the tick population.
Another reason that gets somewhat overlooked is that there was a mice population surge in 2016. Rick Ostfeld, an ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, and Felicia Keesing, an ecologist at Bard College, have discovered a unique way of predicting cases of Lyme disease in a given year by examining the growing mice population of the previous year. Simply put; the population of mice relates to the number of known Lyme cases because mice are carriers of the disease and ticks feed on the mice which causes a quick spread.
These nasty little predators rely on large forests to survive. In this day and age more and more people are building their homes on wooded lots which means a lot of our larger wooded areas are seeing the trees disappear. This is a definite contributing factor to ticks discovering more and more mice to prey on. As people build their homes next to these tick-infested forests, the chances for humans and their pets to get bitten greatly increases and in coming years the problem is only going to get worse.
So what can we do to protect ourselves from this growing epidemic? Those who live near wooded areas, like the northeast United States and Great Lakes areas, as well as ocean areas and other bodies of water should really be paying attention right now. Known cases of Lyme disease have gone up dramatically in the past bunch of years and this year will likely be the worst yet! One of the best ways to protect ourselves, believe it or not, is to open up our eyes! When your dog goes out in the yard or woods or if you go for a walk, be sure to thoroughly check yourself for ticks BEFORE coming back inside. It is so important to remove these vermin outside! let’s not invite them into our houses! Naturally, ask your veterinarian if a Lyme vaccination is right for your dog before administering any prevention products.
It is important to remember that ticks are not limited to “the woods”! If you are outside then you are now exposed to the possibility of picking up a tick. From grassy areas to a single tree to a mouse running through your yard; ticks live outside, period. They like to camp out on taller vegetation, grass and leave piles and wait for a passing animal to latch on to. You will need to do a full body inspection every day and pay special attention to the ears, face and inner thighs as these are common areas for ticks to lodge.
Keeping your grass cut lows and keeping vegetation low will help reduce exposure because ticks like to climb high to improve their chances of attaching to an animal. It is very important to talk to a professional on pest control to see what options will best suit your family and yard if you are considering using a pesticide. On top of applying a tick preventative to your yard you can also look into some topical tick medications that can be applied to the back of your pets’ necks. This may help in killing off ticks that bite your dog and they will fall off by themselves. There can be potential side effects that you should be aware of so you should research the facts for yourself and talk to your vet about what options work for you and your pets.
So remember, the best action to take in keeping these little problems off of your loved ones is to conduct thorough body searches and carefully comb through the hair. Doing a little research on what medications are best and safe for your pets can be vital in saving their lives. Be sure to hire LICENSED professionals if you are considering using a treatment on your lawn. This can be very effective if done properly or very harmful if misused. So please contact a professional and get your family protected today!