Most people don’t think about ticks until the warm summer months. Dedicated pet owners like ourselves, though, know that it’s important to take preventative measures all year long–but we’re still worrying more as the weather warms, too. After all, ticks are nasty little parasites who can pass Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme Disease, and other diseases to your pet. Thousands of dogs are infected with tick-borne diseases each year, and quite a few of those diseases end in severe illness or death. The few changes you can make at home to protect your pet are well worth the effort!
Your pet usually brings ticks in from outside, so let’s start there. Clear your yard of anything ticks could hide and live in. Tall grasses are great places for ticks to catch a ride inside with you or your pet. Rake your leaves and dispose of them immediately. Mow your lawn often and discard any grass trimmings. Keep play equipment, patios, or any recreational areas away from trees and the edge of the yard. Also, you can place a 3 or 4 foot gravel or wood chip barrier between your lawn and the woods to keep more ticks out. If your yard isn’t fenced, you are encouraging animals to come in from the woods and deliver the ticks directly into your yard!
Now that the ticks don’t have anywhere to hide in your yard, apply an acaracide, or tick killer, to your lawn. This pesticide is fairly inexpensive and it’s also easy to use. If handling the acaracide makes you nervous, call a professional exterminator to come out and apply it for you. The tick killer only has to be applied in small amounts twice a year. Check with your local agricultural officials to find out the proper application pattern for your area.
The best thing you can do to prevent ticks on your pet is to ask your vet for a topically applied tick and flea preventative/killer. This should be applied every month of the year for best results. Check your dog or cat daily for ticks in spring, summer, and fall. If you do find a tick, remove it right away, or ask your vet remove it to be sure it’s done properly.
If your dog or cat has been bitten by a tick and has symptoms of a tick-borne disease, call your vet right away. Pick up some flea and tick preventative while you’re there. Don’t wait until it’s too late to protect your pet and the rest of your family from ticks. You’ll be glad that you did your homework!