5/11/2006

All About Ticks (yay!)

Hi Steph,

My boyfriend and I have found 2 ticks on our dog this week. Can people get ticks, and if so, how? Thanks! - Heather

Heather, you have come to the right place. Tomorrow is the 1 year anniversary of my first tick experience & it was a doozy. I learned all about them firsthand so here goes:

Yes, people can get ticks & they can give you Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and other debilitating illnesses. You can get a tick by walking through tall grass, bushes, etc. Animals are much more likely to get them than people because ticks like to get into their fur. And if you find one tick on your dog, there are probably a lot more you can't see.

I came home from a trip to Gettysburg & found 2 ticks on myself (eek!). I thought that Rocco was protected because I put Frontline on him every month but I bought tick shampoo & washed him just to be safe & a ton of ticks fell off of my poor dog. Turns out that Frontline is just for fleas & I should have been using Frontline Plus.

Generally, we don't have a big tick population in Western PA so you don't have to be overly concerned with them. But we do have deer ticks, which can carry Lyme Disease (destroys your nervous system). And if you travel just a wee bit outside of W PA, the risk of a tick bite increases greatly.

One of the quickest ways to get a tick is to go to Erie. I know it sounds odd but they're quite prevelant there. A day on the beach, a bike ride or a nature walk around Lake Erie (especially Presque Isle) is risky if you're not protected. (They have other types in addition to the deer tick, too.)

The eastern side of our lovely state, Southern NY & parts of West Virginia also have large tick populations (mostly deer ticks). Lyme Disease is mainly a problem in the north-eastern US but other parts of the country have ticks that give you other diseases.

If you find a tick remove it with tweezers & take it to your vet to be analyzed. If it's not infected with anything, then no big deal but if it is, you & your dog need antibiotics to keep from getting sick.

Because Rocco has very thick fur, there were a lot of ticks on him. I sprayed my house & the interior of my Jeep with flea & tick spray then took all clothes & luggage from the trip to the laundromat. Over a 2 week period, I found about 5 more, usually around Rocco's bed or places he laid. So just to be safe, I bug-bombed the house.

Hartz makes a great line of flea & tick items. The bombs are pet/child safe & you only have to leave the house for about 2 hours (one hour while it's going off, then come back to open all the windows & let it air out for another hour). Yes, you do have to wash all of your dishes afterward but it doesn't smell up the place or stain anything so you don't have to worry about your furniture or clothes. And there was the added bonus that I didn't have a spider in here for almost 6 months. (I get big, scary spiders in here a lot & the bug bomb was so simple that I'm actually considering another blast . . .)

To protect against Lyme Disease, Rocco receives a vaccination every 6 months because we spend a lot of time in high-risk areas.

I got really stern lectures from my vet, my doctor & the nurses in his office about protecting myself in the future. You should take your pup for the shot. It's cheap (maybe $15) and it protects against a very serious disease. Frontline Plus once a month will kill anything on your dog & protects against fleas, ticks & mosquitos which is great because your dog can also get sick from mosquito bites. According to multiple vets & groomers, it's the best product on the market.

If you need a good vet, try Penn Animal Hospital in the Strip. They have evenings, weekend & also walk-in hours, so you can always get in to see a doctor. They're great & very knowledgable (trust me, we go there a lot).

You don't have to be worried all of the time about ticks but if you do encounter them, you have to be very thorough to make sure you completely exterminate them. The best protection for you is protecting your pets because they are at much greater risk than you are & will bring them into your home & vehicle. Use the Frontline Plus & you can take your dog everywhere with you & never have to worry.

I hope this information helps. Let me know how things turn out with the situation.

1 Comments:

At 5/12/2006 8:16 PM, Blogger PghGuy said...

Bah, two ticks is nothing! Years ago I was at Presque Isle State Park at Lake Erie. After we had been hiking some trails I started feeling scratchy. We then discovered we were COVERED in ticks. All over. In my hair, on my chest, legs and even the private areas. It was the most horrible feeling ever. We hopped in the car and I drove to the motel room where we stripped and pulled dozens of ticks off each other and placed them into a grocery bag. Even in the car later on I found a few on the seats and floors. I'm getting the shivers just thinking about that again!

Fortunately they didn't burrow into any skin. It takes several hours for them to find a comfy place to do that.

 

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