Tips for a tick-free spring

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 10, 2011

Spring has sprung and it will soon be time to battle those tiny, eight legged, vampires, also known as ticks. Ticks, along with the flea, are dreaded by pet owners every year.

To properly battle a tick, we first must understand the tick.

Ticks are not insects. They are members of the same arachnid family as other eight legged creatures like the spider, mite, and chigger. Since ticks are not insects, many insecticides have little or no effect on them.

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Ticks live on plants and vegetation, generally about three feet from the ground. They love to hang out in shaded, wooded, moist areas.

There are more than 800 species of ticks worldwide and more than 100 of them transmit many diseases like Lyme Disease, Canine Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Canine Tick Paralysis. Some species of ticks have the ability to live over six months with out food or water.

The only thing ticks feed on is, you guessed it, blood. The reason hosts are often unaware of a tick latching on them is because tick saliva contains a local anesthetic. There are two main categories of ticks, hard and soft.

Ticks do not jump on their prey; they crawl or fall on them.

There are several ways to lessen the chance of a tick “attack.”

Since ticks like wooded areas, avoid these areas when possible. If Fido loves a good hike, try to keep him on the trail and out of the weeds. Cut your grass regularly and trim any tall weeds along yard fences.

Regularly check Fido for ticks, especially after playing outside, and quickly remove any ticks found. Use a topical preventative that is specifically designed for tick control.

If you locate one of these blood suckers on your best friend, make sure you properly remove it.

First, protect yourself by wearing protective latex or vinyl gloves. Grasp the tick’s head with a pair of small tipped tweezers, or a specialized tick removal tool can be used.

Try to avoid crushing the tick’s body, which could release infected blood. With a slow steady motion pull the tick directly away from the skin.

After the tick is removed clean the attachment site with soap and water and properly dispose of the tick.

Ticks and fleas are some of the biggest enemies a pet owner has, but with prevention and vigilance you will win the battle.

Remember, every dog deserves to be a show dog.

Tony and Kate Barker are certified pet groomers who own and operate The BARKer Shop in Ironton. For questions, call 740-534-0088.