I know we did a whole article about creepy crawlies that get on our pets, but I have seen so many ticks this month I feel like we need a whole talk about them.
Ticks are arachnids. I didn’t know that until I started writing this. I hate spiders, and I’m guessing that is why these creepy things make my skin crawl. They live on the blood of mammals, birds, and sometimes even reptiles and amphibians. They have a mouthful of hooks that dig into the skin of its host.
Almost all ticks belong to one of two major families, the Ixodidae or hard ticks, and the Argasidae or soft ticks. Adults have ovoid or pear-shaped bodies which become engorged with blood when they feed and eight legs. In addition to having a hard shield on their dorsal surfaces, hard ticks have a beak-like structure at the front containing the mouthparts, whereas soft ticks have their mouthparts on the underside of the body. Both families locate a potential host by odor or from changes in the environment.
Ticks have four stages to their lifecycle; namely egg, larva, nymph, and adult. Ixodid ticks have three hosts, taking at least a year to complete their lifecycle. Argasid ticks have up to seven nymphal stages (instars), each one requiring a blood meal. Because of their habit of ingesting blood, ticks are vectors of at least 12 diseases that affect humans and other animals.
If you find a tick attached to your skin or the skin of your pet, there’s no need to panic—the key is to remove the tick as soon as possible. There are several tick removal devices on the market, but a plain set of fine-tipped tweezers work very well.
How to remove a tick
1 Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
2 Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouthparts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
3 After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
4 Never crush a tick with your fingers. Dispose of a live tick by putting it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet.
If you develop a rash or fever within several weeks of removing a tick, see your doctor. Be sure to tell the doctor about your recent tick bite, when the bite occurred, and where you most likely acquired the tick.
I know four people that suffer from Lyme disease. One caught hers early, and with the treatment, she was cured and fine. The other three suffer from the long term effects of the disease. Pets can also get Lyme disease. It is so important to have your pet on a Flea AND Tick prevention. There are so many on the market but be sure they do fleas and ticks. I only recently found out Trifexus does not prevent ticks. We had a Great Pyrenees come in that was on Trifexus, and the owner didn’t know that wasn’t enough. The dog had over 15 ticks on her. Being in the country and we all have land, we have to check ourselves and our pets daily. Stop running off the opossums in your yard. They love to eat ticks, and they are immune to Lyme disease.
Treat the part of your yard that the kids and pets play in the most. I know most of us can’t treat our entire property, but this will help. Our local feed stores have great products to help. Check with your vet on the best Tick prevention. Read the entire label before using a topical flea and tick prevention. Some won’t work if they are used three days before or after a bath. Pill preventions to us are the best but be sure to talk to your vet. The pills can be used at any time without worrying about baths. The collars that we see are working pretty well but again read the entire label. Some suggest you only wash your dog once a month for them to work for eight months.
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Credits to Wikipedia and the CDC