Ticks 101

Tick Talk

I grew up during the ’60s in a small coal-mining town on the edge of the Poconos. The veterinarian nearest to us was 12 miles away and he mainly did dairy work. Dogs and cats ran free in our neighborhoods and parasite control was limited to mainly flea baths, powders, and sprays. I honestly never recall hearing about a tick until many years later. Fleas, worms, and rabies shots were what we cared about in the ’60s.

Oh my, how things have changed! If I had known then what I know now as a veterinarian, I would have not rolled down all those grassy hills as a kid. Good thing I didn’t know because it was a lot of fun!

So now that I’m a veterinarian and am better informed about many of the potential dangers that lurk in our surroundings, it’s my duty to educate you so that you can make the best decision for your family (pets included, naturally). I’ve included a list of facts about ticks below:

Tick Facts

  • Don’t try removing ticks with a match—it will encourage the tick to spread the disease before it comes off. Try removing the tick with tweezers. Grasp it as close to the skin as possible and pull. If you don’t have any tweezers you can cut a slit in an index card or an old credit card and push the slit up under the tick continuing to move forward until it comes off.
  • Every tick in the United States can carry diseases. We recommend a 4dx blood test to be done every year. You may hear it called the “Heartworm Test” but it does much more than check for heartworm. It also tests for exposure to tick-borne diseases such as Lyme, Ehrlichia, and Anaplasma. The last two you may never have heard of but we see positive tests quite frequently. You can learn more about them by going to the Veterinary Partner website and searching for “ticks” in the search bar.
  • Even if you don’t live near the woods you can still have a tick problem. Ticks crawl on the ground and up grass blades. Even pets living in New York City have gotten Lyme disease because ticks are everywhere.
  • April through November are high tick incidence months but we recommend to use tick preventative year-round. I’ve personally seen pets that have Lyme disease in the middle of January. Quite a few of these Lyme positive pets are mainly indoor pooches that only go outside when nature calls. Usually, these pets have not been on a preventative.
  • Be careful where you buy your flea/tick preventative, especially if you are buying it online. I have seen firsthand identical packaging of a popular flea/tick product that was confirmed by the company’s representative as counterfeit. The only difference in the packaging was a tiny orange dot that was strategically placed by the real manufacturer in order to determine it was theirs. This is why many preventative manufacturers won’t stand behind a product that is represented as theirs but was bought on a website through a third party.
  • When buying a flea/tick preventative, if it’s on sale check the expiration date to make sure it won’t expire before you can use it all. Expired products won’t necessarily harm your pet, it just may not work as well.
  • Laboratory tests for tick-borne disease in people are usually negative the first time around and usually, require a second test two to three weeks later.
  • Ticks are only second to mosquitos in the number of diseases they transmit.
  • Cats can get ticks too. They can’t groom them away because the tick practically buries its mouthparts in the skin.
  • Ticks can survive in less than ideal environments. We still see live ticks on pets in the dead of winter.

if you would like more information about ticks, please visit either the Veterinary Partner or DVM 360 websites. And if you ever have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to call us at (717) 839-5899.