Do you or your pets like hiking, playing in tall grass, or playing in the woods? Then you probably have had encounters with ticks. And you should know what to do when you
find them on yourself or your pet!
The most common tick in Tennessee is the Lone Star tick; however, other common ticks include dog ticks and deer ticks.
Ticks feed on the blood of their hosts. They seek out motion and mammals, making people and pets very attractive to latch onto. Once a tick latches on, they will continue
to feed for several hours or days, depending on the type of tick.
Ticks like to find crevices and/or areas with little to no hair (both pets and humans), which means they like ears, inside the legs, between the toes, skin folds, back of knees and around the waistline.
To remove a tick, never use a lighter, nail polish or other products. Using a pair of tweezers, grab the tick by the mouth parts, as close to the skin as possible and pull straight out. Then wash the area with soap and water and apply a topical antiseptic. You might consider keeping the tick in the event you or your pet become ill by placing the tick in a plastic bag in the freezer. Symptoms for humans might include fever, headache, or a spreading rash. Keep a close eye on your pet as well for any symptoms of lethargy, lack of appetite, lameness, joint swelling and/or anemia. Signs may take days, weeks, or months to appear. If this happens, remember that tick in the freezer, and take it with you when you see a doctor. Not all ticks transmit diseases; however, the threat of disease is always present.
Protection against ticks for your pets is to use flea and tick prevention, as recommended by your veterinarian. For your personal protection, use insect repellent with DEET (check label for usage), and wear light-colored clothing. Always tuck long pants into socks to keep them off your skin. Wear a hat when walking in the woods and closed-toed shoes. Examine yourself and your pets for ticks before entering the house to help keep the ticks outside.
Ticks die quickly in sunny, dry environments. Maintaining your landscaping around your home by mowing and keeping brush away from the house is a good way to keep your environment safe for you and your pets. For more information about ticks visit the University of Rhode Island’s TickEncounter Resource Center.