Lyme Disease is the most commonly reported vector-borne illness for humans in the United States; in 2011 it was the 6th most common Nationally Notifiable disease. In that same year, 96% of Lyme disease cases were reported from 13 states including Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.
That’s bad news for humans, but Lyme disease also affects dogs. Cats are not as susceptible for Lyme disease but “in and out” cats are notorious for transporting ticks back into your house.
Step 1: Creating a Safe Environment
Creating a safe, tick-free area for your pets means keeping them away from shady areas or thickets common along the edges of many yards. Ticks thrive in humid, moist places but won’t survive well in sunny, drier spots in the yard. While an underground electric fence can keep your pet inside the safe area, other animals such as deer, mice, and chipmunks can carry ticks into your pets’ play area. If you live in a wildlife-rich area, a solid fence is most effective as it helps keep your animals in and other animals out of your yard.
Step 2: Choosing the Right Product
There are certain factors you need to consider when determining which tick preventative is right for you and your pet(s). Some products are dangerous to cats, so it is important to keep this in mind when making your decision. The TickEncounter Resource Center provides a tick control chart to simplify your options when choosing a tick protection product for your pet. Products with quick tick knockdown or rapid tick detachment are best for protecting your family from “loose and wandering ticks” on your pet.
In addition to protecting pets every month, tick prevention can also be supplemented with a Lyme vaccination. Be sure to consult your veterinarian to set up the best plan for your pet.
Step 3: Groom After Exposure
After your pets return from outside, always groom them with a fine-toothed comb to see if there are any ticks rummaging around in their fur. Because of the thicker fur, however, ticks might not bite your pet right away. If your pets carry ticks into your home, the ticks may latch onto a new host, which could be you! For the safety of everyone in your household, you should check your pets as soon as they come in because catching the tick and removing it earlier greatly protects everyone’s health.
Lyme and other tick-borne diseases can be 100% preventable; always follow these 3 steps and keep ticks from taking control of your life and your pet.
But if you do encounter an attached tick, don’t panic. This helpful video teaches you how to remove a tick safely.
And don’t just toss that tick out; try to identify it and report it to TickEncounter’s crowd-sourced tick bite registry.
Do you know someone that you want to keep TickSafe? Share these TickSmart tips with your friends.
Take control of ticks and visit TickEncounter.org for more tips to keep ticks off!
Cara Sullivan is from Massachusetts and is a member of the Class of 2014 at The University of Rhode Island, with a major in Public Relations. She was intrigued by this internship because a few years back, her family had to put down their black lab because she contracted Lyme disease. Tick-borne diseases and awareness about ticks are personal matters for her.