It’s summertime, and that means people will be spending more time outside. With warmer temperatures, sunnier days, and time to spend in nature, getting out in the great outdoors is on a lot of people’s summer to-do list. But while families and their pets are out to play, so are all the insects that have been missing throughout the winter months. While many people do their best to avoid these critters, sometimes it can next to impossible to steer clear when you’re exploring the places they call home.
The summer months are also a time when ticks come out to feed. During tick season, the risk of getting bitten are much higher. The problem lies in ticks that are infected with diseases such as Lyme disease. When a tick bites you or your pet, it can transmit Lyme disease, which can make both humans and animals ill. There are ways to keep yourself and your pets safe this summer season, though. Read on for our handy guide to protecting your pet from ticks.
Are ticks worse in the summer?
Tick populations tend to ebb and flow each tick season. Sometimes the numbers of ticks in any given area are worse in the summer months, and sometimes they’re not as bad. But since ticks thrive in warm weather, they are always more prevalent in the summer months than they are in the winter.
However, not every summer is a “bad” tick season. This is because tick populations depend highly on the climate and how the previous winter was. For example, in years where the winter is warm and summer heat lasts well into October, tick populations are given more time to feed as the season comes to end. When an area is hit with a mild winter that ends early, ticks are essentially given a head start.
Experts have been saying that the 2021 tick season could be one of the worst they’ve seen in a while because of the conditions that occurred in 2020 – mild weather, as well as a lack of acorns. An abundance of acorns often means a boom in the white-footed mouse population, which is the tick’s first choice when it comes to feeding. Since there was a shortage of acorns last year, there will be a smaller white-footed mouse population, and ticks will have to find something else to feed on – such as you or your pet.
How do you keep ticks off pets?
Since the tick season this year is expected to be a bad one, it’s important for you to do what you can to help protect your pets from getting bitten by an infected tick. Lyme disease can be a serious health issue if your pet contracts it, leading to symptoms such as:
- Loss of appetite
- Low energy
- Stiffness or discomfort and pain
- Swelling of the joints
In some cases of Lyme disease, progression can lead to kidney failure or other serious cardiac and neurological issues. This is why it’s vital to protect your pets.
One tactic you can use to help keep ticks off your pets is avoiding areas where ticks thrive, but more often than not, that’s unavoidable. Dogs, for example, need exercise in the great outdoors, and keeping them cooped up all summer out of fear of ticks is not a good idea. Luckily, there are tick protection collars, topical treatments, and medications you can give your dog to help prevent tick bites. There’s also a solid five-point plan for protecting yourself and your pets – read on to learn about it.
How to protect your pet from ticks
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommendations designed to keep your pets safe from ticks and, thus, the Lyme disease they carry. The guidelines include:
1. Checking your pet daily for ticks
Since ticks can live in various areas, it’s important that you check your pet for ticks every day. If a tick has latched on to your pet, you want to ensure it is not allowed to feed for long.
2. Remove any ticks you find as soon as possible
If you do happen to find a tick on your pet, it needs to be removed promptly. Use fine-point tweezers for removal; this will help reduce the chances of tearing the tick or spreading infection into the bite. To remove, grasp the tick with the tweezers as close to the skin as you can and gently pull straight upward, slowly and steadily.
3. Ask your vet for a tick check
If you’ve searched your dog and can’t find anything but are still worried, you can ask your vet to do a tick check for you. They are typically trained to do such things and may find one you missed.
4. Talk to your vet about tickborne diseases
In your area, there may or may not be large numbers of ticks with disease. However, it’s always better to know what you’re going up against. Knowing the area you’re spending time in and the possibility of contracting diseases will help you keep your pet away from the most dangerous areas.
5. Treat your yard for ticks
If you have a backyard, you could also have ticks. They will tend to gravitate towards overgrown bushes or tall grass areas in your yard, so you can start by trimming or mowing away those areas. You will also want to invest in an outdoor tick spray that you can spray all over your yard to help remove or reduce the number of ticks that live there.
Knowing how to avoid and prevent a Lyme disease infection is vital when it comes to enjoying the great outdoors. And while you’re protecting your pet, don’t forget that humans need to protect themselves from tick bites, too! You can do this by wearing loose, light-colored clothing while out in the wilderness and checking yourself for ticks regularly. There’s no need to fear ticks or stay inside all summer if you know how to protect yourself, your family, and your pets.