Ticks: A Warm Winter Threat

Last week we had a bout of lovely unseasonably warm temperatures and decided to take advantage of the warm evening by taking our Boston terrier on a long walk around the dog path adjacent to our neighborhood. Later that evening while giving our pup a good scratch behind the ears we made the awful discovery of one fat tick on his neck.

Like most of the country, our temperatures have been milder than normal this winter.  While it can be a nice break to the below freezing temperatures, 10 degree wind chill and constant threat of snow from our normal winters higher temperatures bring threats we don’t normally worry about during the long winter months.

Tick bites are one of those threats. During the spring and summer we are on constant tick watch while hiking, exercising our pets and working in the garden. Because of the high deer population in our area we have to be extra careful since with deer come deer ticks and Lyme disease.

Ticks bites can be a risk anytime the weather rises above freezing temperatures but you should be on alert whenever your temperatures rise about 50 degrees for a few consecutive days. In cold winter weather, ticks go dormant burrowing down in protected spots. When temperatures rise about freezing they venture out onto blades of grass and leaves waiting for a warm body to feed on.

It’s important to remember that ticks will hide in hair, clothes and skin and may remain hidden for hours before executing their painless bite. We recommend that whenever you have been in wooded/grassy areas or gardening during a warm winter day to check yourselves and your animals well once you return inside. Also, it is a good idea to toss clothes into the dryer set on high heat, to kill any that may be lurking under the collar of your shirt.

It is also a good idea to continue your pets tick and flea medication or spray them with a repellent such as Liquid Net for Pets.

If you do find a tick on yourself, a family member or a pet follow these simple steps for safe removal.

  1. Using a Tick Nipper or pair of tweezers slide the tip under the tick as close to the skin as possible.
  2. While grasping the mouth of the tick pull the tick firmly but slowly straight out and away from the skin, making sure not to squeeze the body of the tick.
  3. Place the tick in a sealed clear container. (If an allergic reaction or infection presents please seek medical attention and take the tick with you.)
  4. Finally, clean the bite area and apply an antibiotic ointment. Monitor for the next several days for signs of infection.

DO NOT TRY TO:  Smother the tick with petroleum jelly or nail polish. OR Burn it with a match or lighter while still attached to the skin.

 

Have you spotted a tick on yourself, family member or pet this winter??

 

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One Response to “Ticks: A Warm Winter Threat”

  1. February 13, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

    Last fall my dog and I both had tick bites and we both contracted Lyme disease. The dog is 87 lbs and nearly died. We were both on antibiotics for 12 weeks. Yes, Ticks are nasty and dangerous! Characteristic sign of Lyme disease from a tick bite is a red ring forming around the bite within a day or two. The ring will continue to get larger. If you suspect a tick bite and see a ring forming get medical help that day! And get tested for Lyme disease.
    DO not think your dog is protected because you have them on a product like Frontline. A tick can attach itself on a dog treated with Frontline. The tick will die but it can still have infected the dog.

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