The Great Outdoors

Along with the adventure of exploring the Great Outdoors this summer, come pestilence. Let’s be honest—ticks are everywhere and they thrive. If you’ve ever tried to kill a tick, you’d agree that it feels next to impossible. To escape the clutches of these almost invisible pests, even moving into a snowy tundra won't suffice.

As larva, ticks can be as tiny as a grain of sand or sesame seed. These tiny beggars are able to survive 540 plus days without any food, a host, and even in freezing conditions. Despite their tiny package, these ghost walkers potentially carry a multitude of hazardous infections, Lyme disease being the most prominent and troublesome. Whereas other animals can carry Lyme disease without sign, dogs will experience fever, loss of appetite, painful or swollen joints, lameness, swollen lymph nodes, and lethargy. Untreated Lyme disease can lead to damage in the kidneys, nervous system, and heart.

Ticks have a lifespan anywhere up to 3 years, and choose animals over humans by 50%, although once your outdoor dog comes back inside, the chances of spreading through your family will grow until they’ve been groomed and assessed. 36-48 hours is all the time needed for an infected tick to be attached before Lyme disease can be transmitted.

Developing a daily grooming schedule will not only serve as a bonding experience, but it can also be a very important teaching moment for the little hands in the family. Ticks, although adaptable to cold weather, look for dark, warm and moist areas. On your pet this includes but is not limited to the ears, eyelids, between the toes, and the groin. Starting at the top of the head, use your hands (or a flea comb) and move down the body checking “hot spots.” Don’t forget to pause and check any bumps! If the tick is found before 36 hours of feeding the chances of contracting Lyme disease decreases.

Grooming aside, keep up with flea medicine to ensure it meets requirements, mow your lawn frequently, place barriers between lawns and wooded areas or piles, and discourage unwelcome animals like deer, raccoons, or stray dogs. We’ll keep the outdoors great and our homes safe.