April showers bring May flowers… and ticks. Experts are warning about the re-emergence of blacklegged ticks, otherwise known as deer ticks. As the snow melts and the earth begins to warm up, these pests are the first of the tick family to come out, and many are carriers of Lyme disease – putting pets and their owners at risk.

While blacklegged ticks are more dangerous than wood ticks, all types can carry Lyme disease. Taking precautions is key. Here’s a few ways to keep you and your pets safe all season long:

1. Wear long clothing

Pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and long cotton socks will keep the bugs at bay when camping or walking with your dog. Wear light-colored clothing, which is less attractive to ticks.

2. Use natural repellents

Certain tick preventatives designed for pets contain harsh chemicals that can have negative side effects. When looking for a repellent, go natural. Some essential oils, such as Citronella, can be diluted to create all-natural pest repellents for your dog – just be careful if you have cats, as certain essential oils are toxic to felines.

3. Talk to your vet 

Sometimes repellents aren’t enough to keep your pets safe. Consider getting your furry friend vaccinated to protect from Lyme disease. Your veterinarian can perform a titer test to determine the safest vaccine schedule for your animal companions.

4. Create a safe environment

Stay away from shady areas, woods, and long grass. Ticks prefer humid environments, so cutting your grass regularly and keeping it on the dry side will help keep your family safe. Proper fencing can also help by keeping tick carriers – deer, mice, racoons, squirrels, etc. – from getting into your yard.

5. Eat garlic

This is another effective way to keep ticks from attaching themselves to you. Feeding your dog garlic in small amounts will protect him as well. Planting garlic around your property will also work in the long run as an effective tick repellent.

Not sure how much garlic is safe for your dog? Click here.

6. Strengthen your immune system

Healthy immunity is one of the best ways to fight diseases like Lyme. A wholesome, balanced diet that promotes overall wellbeing is the first step to strengthening your immune system, and your pet’s.

7. Perform frequent tick-checks

No matter what you do to protect ticks from biting, no remedy is foolproof. Thoroughly check yourself and your dog for any ticks after coming in from the outdoors. It takes 24-hours for Lyme transmission to occur, so take steps to safely remove ticks before this period of time elapses.

If you find a tick on yourself or your pet, don’t panic. Most locations have a system that allows citizens to send in ticks to be examined, so you can know for sure whether you’re at risk of developing Lyme. While these systems may not be able to  determine whether or not Lyme disease is present, it effectively allows officials to identify the type of tick and whether or not further testing is necessary.