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Tick season is upon us- tips, warnings, and info you need

By on May 15, 2018

In true Nebraska fashion, we dragged ourselves out of winter very slowly, only to get about a week of spring weather before the 80+ degree temps came to roost. All complaining aside, this is our life here in the Cornhusker State! And knowing that the warm temperatures are here for a bit, plus the fact we’re all eager to get out and enjoy it with our animals, one thing is always worth mentioning: ticks are all around us this time of year.

Don’t think flea and tick awareness or disease is important? You’re not alone. A study recently found that, of 1,300 pet owners, about 1 in 3 people don’t try to prevent these insects from attacking their animals. About half of those people also don’t have routine check ups to make sure parasites aren’t sickening animals.

2018 looks to be another severe tick year, so use these tips from Sally, one of our guest contributors, to stay safe:

Keeping Yourself and Your Dog Safe from Ticks

Ticks are a threat to both you and your dog as they can transmit a number of potentially life-threatening conditions to you if they’re allowed to feed unchecked. Each year, several Nebraskans (and many more pets) need medical care for cases of tick-borne diseases such as Lyme Disease. If you plan on taking your dog outdoors this summer, it’s a good idea to read up on how to identify and prevent these irritating critters from infesting you and your four-legged friend.

Tick-Borne Diseases

Ticks are much more than just an itchy parasite. They carry a number of diseases that can lead to long-term health complications in both humans and dogs. Lyme Disease is perhaps the most famous and, if left untreated, can result in both physical and neurological problems. In dogs, it leads to lameness, fever, lethargy, and swollen lymph nodes. Some other diseases transmitted by ticks include:

●     Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever:

●     Ehrlichiosis

●     Tularemia

●     Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness

●     Heartland Virus Disease

 

Identifying Ticks

The two types of ticks most commonly found in Nebraska are American Dog Ticks, which tend to hide in open areas, and the Lone Star Tick, which prefers wooded areas. Typically, the head of a tick is buried in the skin as it feeds, so you’ll only see the enlarged abdomen. Most ticks are tan to light brown in color, though they may appear darker if they’ve been feeding.

After a nature walk with your dog, you should always check for ticks. Tick checks are relatively simple and take minutes to complete. For yourself, be sure to check in every nook and cranny, including your scalp. You may need to get a friend to help you. It’s also crucial that you give your pup a thorough search to make sure no ticks are hiding in tufts of hair.

Removing and Preventing Ticks

If you find a tick embedded in you or your dog, you can’t simply pull it out. The head may stay in the skin and lead to an infection. Instead, you should use tweezers to grip the tick as close to the base of the skin as possible and pull gently. Stubborn ticks may be convinced to come out by taking a hot needle and burning their abdomen, forcing their head to retract. To prevent tick bites in the future, you can use a spray-on repellent with permethrin, or you can apply a topical anti-parasitic medication to your pet.

Ticks are a threat that’s too often overlooked by Nebraska families. Ticks carry a host of diseases that can be dangerous to both humans and our canine friends. It’s important to be vigilant after an outdoor escapade and to remove any unwanted hitchhikers as soon as possible.

About Eric Forrest

Eric is a pet lover, bookworm and dad. He's had 5 family dogs, 4 cats, a cottontail rabbit he nursed back to health, and two ducks. Cats are his preference, but Eric loves all little critters.

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