During spring, when the warm weather begins so does the tick season; in our region you will find them in the low lying bushes that skirt the sides of some trails. Besides being a pest, these bloodsuckers can transmit serious and sometimes fatal diseases such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Taking a few precautions before heading into heavily wooded area is always a good idea.
Ticks can be found in most wooded or forested regions throughout the world and are common in areas where there are deer trails or human tracks. Ticks are especially abundant near water, where warm-blooded animals come to drink, and in meadows wherever shrubs and brush provide woody surfaces and cover.
It is my experience that they do not seem to be a problem in heavily treed evergreen forests, maybe this is because it tends to be cooler below the trees but are more abundant in bushy areas that at least have some sunlight.
Ticks are usually round and are black or brown when filling with blood, but some are grey. It is a good practice when you have located what you think is a tick to take a good look with a magnifying glass.
Tips for Travelling in Tick Country:
- Carry a good pair of tweezers and a magnifying glass in your first aid kit.
- Wear a hat, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, tucked into your pants
- Spray exposed body areas with tick repellent (DEET) Avoid using DEET repeatedly on children.
- Stay on groomed trails, and avoid walking through the bush.
- Search your entire body for ticks after a walk in the woods. Pay attention to the areas behind your neck, knees and groin.
- Remove any ticks you might find immediately. If you act quickly you may be able to avoid contacting a disease.
If you are concerned about extracting the tick, go directly to your doctor or to the emergency room, the professionals are well versed on extraction. It is important to get the entire tick out and not just break it off. If you have been exposed to a tick and you develop a rash where you removed it, see your doctor.
Ticks are parasites that feed on warm blooded creatures. When removing, be careful, if the tick is not removed properly the chances of spreading a disease is higher.
How to Remove Ticks:
- Use a tick removal instrument such as fine tipped tweezers. Tweezers work well because they allow you to remove the tick without squeezing its body. If you put pressure on the body, bacteria that may be harmful can leave the tick and enter the bloodstream of the host.
- Take hold of the tick by the head or mouth parts with the tweezers. Grab were the head and mouth enters the skin. Avoid picking it up by its body if possible. Pull the tick out in a firm and steady manner. As you pull, do not jerk or twist.
- Save the tick once you have removed it so it can be analysed for disease or be properly disposed of. To dispose of the tick, put it in a jar of alcohol. Do not flush it down the drain as ticks are not harmed by moisture and it may still be alive. To save it, put the tick in a seal able container or plastic bag along with a moist cotton ball to keep it from drying out.
Clean the wound using alcohol or antiseptic, and then cover the bite with a bandage.
How to Remove Ticks from your Dog:
Begin checking your dog around the muzzle and ears. With gloved fingers lightly touch the dog’s skin beneath the fur and be conscious of any conspicuous bumps. Most ticks are very small, so take your time; your dog will love it anyway. Check behind the ears, near the nape of the neck and under the chin specifically.
Work your way down the body, checking the dog’s forelegs and have him lay on his side to check on the stomach and back. Ticks prefer warm areas so don’t forget the dog’s armpits and the buttocks.
You are feeling for any little bumps or lumps, if you feel something part the hair. Use a magnifying glass if you aren’t sure, ticks attach themselves at the head to the skin of your dog, when feeding, the tick’s abdomen becomes bloated, be careful not to squeeze too hard and break the tick open. Gently pull it out with tweezers.
- Have your dog sit or lay down, on his side – if the tick is found on his stomach or underside.
- Part the hair away from the area where the tick is found, if your dog has long or unruly fur, you may find it helpful to trim the fur within a half inch of the area.
- Dab rubbing alcohol over the area, if the tick is not already embedded in the skin fill the lid of the container with alcohol and hold it against the area for a minute to kill the tick. If it is in his ear, dab the area with a Q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol or tea tree oil, ensuring it is moist, do this several times.
- Use tweezers to remove the dead tick. Do not attempt to remove it before killing it as it may cause it to attach or dig deeper or bite your dog and release disease-carrying poisons. When extracted thoroughly confirm that the head or a leg or two were not left behind. They can cause an infection if not removed.
- Clean thoroughly, and treat with a topical antibiotic if needed. Check the spot daily for at least a week. Look for signs of swelling, discolouration, or infection. Be aware of any behaviour changes, in your animal, signs of disorientation, or loss of appetite. Contact your vet if your dog shows any of these signs. Your vet may want to run a blood test to rule out tick born diseases.