I bet Old MacDonald would have a few words to say about these nasty little critters. With a farm that size, he probably had some serious scratching going on!
Fleas and ticks pose more of a problem for dogs and cats in a climate where the environment is warmer and more humid. This allows populations of fleas and ticks to explode, increasing health concerns for the cats, dogs, and humans in these locations. Unfortunately, Ohio is one of those climates. Due to more wildlife conservation programs, reforestation, and expansion of urban areas, tick migration is on the rise, and Ohio seems to be a popular spot for establishing tick neighborhoods.
Fifteen years ago, deer ticks were unheard of in Ohio. Now they can be found in a third of Ohio’s 88 counties. American dog ticks used to be the most common, but deer ticks have been on the rise over the last few years as the deer population has increased. Along with the increasing population of these deer ticks comes the increased likelihood of Lyme disease and/or anaplasmosis transmission to dogs and cats in this part of the country.
Dogs that seem to be suffering from multiple joint pain may already be infected with several tick borne diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme Disease, ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis. The good news is that if tested early, with treatment, the dog can regain health in a short time.
Though you may think otherwise, ticks do not jump, fly, or fall out of trees. They wait on grass and low growing plants. When you or your dog brushes against the plant, the tick will cling to fur or clothing and crawl upward, looking for a place to attach and begin feeding. This is called “questing.”
The risk of exposure to ticks and disease can be reduced by keeping yard and outdoor play areas well mowed to discourage tick infestation. Infected dogs are not contagious to humans. However, if they carry ticks into the home, the ticks may be transferred to humans and infect them.
Common Ohio Ticks
American Dog Tick
Also known as the wood tick, this species of tick prefers to feed from dogs and humans. When fully engorged, they turn grayish and resemble a small bean or grape. You will encounter these types of ticks closer to water and in humid locations. Diseases transmitted to pets by the American dog tick include Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia.
Also known as the blacklegged tick, the deer tick prefer to feed on deer but will feed on dogs, cats, and people as well. These ticks are most commonly found in wooded areas. They are very small, reddish brown in color, and turn a darker brown when filled with blood. This species can transmit diseases such as ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, and Lyme disease.
Lone Star Tick
Adult Lone Star ticks also live in wooded areas near water, such as along rivers and creeks. These small brown/tan colored ticks have a distinctive white spot on the middle of their backs (females) and are sometimes mistaken for deer ticks. Lone Star ticks will usually select cats, dogs, and humans as hosts. This species of tick can carry diseases such as ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and tularemia.
Brown Dog Tick
Also known as a house tick or kennel tick, the brown dog tick prefers dogs as its host and rarely bites humans. The brown dog tick can survive indoors no matter how cold a climate is outside. While other species of ticks might be carried inside with pets and humans, they are not able to establish themselves in a household and cause an infestation like the brown dog tick can. This particular tick is not known to transmit any diseases to humans, but it can carry the organisms responsible for ehrlichiosis and a form of anaplasmosis in dogs and cats.
Check your pets frequently!
The City of Ravenna Health Dept. has valuable information regarding ticks including these instructions for proper removal.
DO NOT use petroleum jelly or a hot match to kill and/or remove a tick. These methods do not get the tick off your skin and can cause the insect to burrow deeper and release more saliva, which increases the chances of disease transmission.
Use fine-tipped tweezers or notched tick extractor. Protect your fingers with a tissue, paper towel, or latex gloves. Persons should avoid removing ticks with bare hands.
Grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible and pull upward with steady, even pressure.
DO NOT squeeze, crush, or puncture the body of the tick because its fluids may contain infectious organisms. Skin accidentally exposed to tick fluids can be disinfected with iodine scrub, rubbing alcohol, or water containing detergents.
DO NOT twist or jerk the tick as this may cause the mouth parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove mouth parts with tweezers. Consult your health care provider if illness occurs.
After removing the tick, thoroughly disinfect the bite site with alcohol.
Wash your hands with soap and water.
Save the tick by putting it into a container of alcohol or place the tick in a sealable plastic bag and put it in your freezer. Write the date of the bite on the container in case you become ill. This may help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis.
1. Spot-on Treatments
These medications can be purchased from your veterinarian, pet store, or online and are effective at keeping parasites at bay for up to a month. While these medications are great, you still need to be very careful about which one you use.
Bathing your dog with a shampoo that contains medicated ingredients will generally kill ticks on contact. This can be an inexpensive method of protecting your dog during the peak tick season. Repeat about every two weeks.
3. Tick Dips
A dip is a concentrated chemical that needs to be diluted in water and applied to the animal’s fur with a sponge or poured over the back. This treatment is not meant to be rinsed off after application. The chemicals used in dips can be very strong, so be sure to read the labels carefully before use. Do not use on animals under four months or on pregnant or nursing pets. Ask your veterinarian for advice before treating puppies or pregnant or nursing pets.
4. Oral Medications
Pills that are given once a month are readily available for dogs. These medications can work to kill both ticks and immature fleas and will disrupt the life cycle of fleas. They are easy to give and you won’t have to be concerned about small children and cats coming into contact with dogs immediately after application, as you might with spot-on treatments.
5. Tick Collars
Collars primarily protect the neck and head. The tick collar needs to make contact with your dog’s skin in order to transfer the chemicals onto the dog’s fur and skin. When putting this type of collar on your dog, leave enough room to fit two fingers under the collar when it’s around the dog’s neck. Watch for allergic reactions such as scratching, skin irritations, etc.
For those who prefer a natural means of treating ticks, this link will take you to essential oils used by many as a safe, effective alternative. Essential Oils for Dog Tick Control.
Yes, ticks are on the rise. But that does not mean you or your pet need to stay indoors all summer for fear of contracting a disease! Just as you take extra care to thoroughly wash after an encounter with poison ivy outdoors and have become a PI Detective when coursing the woods, you will now have to add tick awareness to your list of outdoor safety skills. Tick checks after every hike will become a natural part of the excursion. Be smart, not afraid, and enjoy your summer!