Protect yourself and your pets from ticks

It’s tick season once again! Some easy tips will help you and your pet get through it safely!

May, June and July are the prime months for ticks in Michigan! Checking you four-legged companion for ticks is an essential step in protecting him and yourself. Tick-born diseases can take up to 21 days before they show symptoms after a tick bite. 

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends following some simple steps to protect you and your pet from tick-born diseases:

  • Check your pets for ticks daily, especially after they spend time outdoors.
  • If you find a tick on your dog, remove it right away.
  • Ask your veterinarian to conduct a tick check at each exam.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about tick-born diseases in your area.
  • Reduce tick habitat in your yard.
  • Talk with your veterinarian about using tick preventives on your pet.

Removing a tick from your pet is easy.  First, before you examine your pet, find a pair of latex gloves to help protect yourself from tick-born disease. 

To determine if your pet does have a tick you must feel your pet all over, especially around the neck, head and ears. If you encounter a lump like a small pea, move the fur on your pet to see if you have found a tick. Look to see if a tick is protruding from the skin.

Ticks are small black, brown, reddish or tan disk-like arachnids (having eight legs), about the size of the head of a pin. Visit the TickEncounter Resource Center website for pictures of various types of ticks.  If they have attached themselves to their host (your pet), then they can swell up to the size of a grape in some cases.

To remove the tick, put your pet in a comfortable position. Ask a friend or family member for help in distracting your pet.  Grasp the tick with tweezers as close to your pet's skin as possible; make sure not to pinch your pet's skin. Pull the tick out using a straight, steady pulling motion. Be gentle; pulling too hard on the tick can cause its head to remain lodged in your pet's skin, which can lead to inflammation and secondary infection.

Dispose of the tick by throwing it into a fire, or by squishing it in a tissue using the tweezers and then flushing it down the toilet. Do not smash it with your foot or your bare hands. Apply antiseptic ointment to the bite to prevent infection.

Wash your hands thoroughly after you have removed and disposed of the tick. Clean the tweezers and any other equipment you used with hot water or isopropyl alcohol.

These easy steps can protect you, your pets and your family from disease.

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