Does my even mentioning the thought of ticks make you itch and double-check your arms and legs, or look in the mirror to make sure that you don’t have of these travelers on you?  It does me.  Tick season is coming upon us, so let's take a look at what we can do to help you evict them from your property.  In another blog, we will discuss what to do should a tick get past your defenses and find its way onto you!

What is wrong with ticks?

Beyond being bothersome, ticks can transmit diseases to humans, as well as to our dogs! The Deer tick can carry diseases such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. 

When should I worry about ticks the most?

Late Spring and early Summer is when the risk of getting Lyme disease is greatest (during their nymphal stage). That doesn’t necessarily mean you are safe from them at other times.  They can be active in the warmer parts of the year as well.  They love humidity.

What can I do to keep ticks away from where we live?

What you can do to keep the tick population down is by creating a ‘tick-free safe zone’.  This is an area that is clear of leaf debris and clutter.  It is something that creates a separation between the family’s outdoor living area, and that of the treed and leafy areas surrounding your property. This separation, or "safe-zone," can be made by using wood chips, mulch, stones, decking or tile.  This sounds like a lot, but if you can manage it, make your zone 6-9 feet wide.  If this cannot be managed in your home, make it as wide as possible.  Any tick-free safe-zone is better than none at all.

This tick-free safe-zone will help keep the ticks where we want them: on the other side of the zone you have created!  Keep your lawn mowed and trees pruned.  For added protection from possible ticks that might make it past your safe-zone, make sure that any lawn chairs and play equipment are set up away from the zone you have created.  

Evict the animals that can carry ticks to the safe side of your safety-zone!

Mice and chipmunks tend to bring in ticks closer to the home, as do your dogs.  You can relocate your mice and chipmunks by relocating stonewalls or woodpiles to an area further away from your outdoor living area.  And, we want to discourage your dogs from bringing their tick-friends home to you, because ticks are just as risky for your dogs as they are for you.  Keep them out of forested areas, and away from dense shrubs, if possible.  Ticks like to climb shrubs until they are 18-24 inches off the ground, a perfect height to attach themselves to your beloved pet.

What can I do to protect my dogs – I don’t want them to get ticks, and I don’t want them bringing them home either!

You do have some options for tick management of your dogs as well as your cats.  I suggest natural treatments first.

-  Apple Cider Vinegar- add 2 tablespoons to your pet’s food or water bowl daily

-  Garlic, add a clove to their daily meal.  In addition to keeping the vampires away… hopefully the garlic will keep the ticks away as well. Plant-life to avoid is ground cover near your family activities.  Plant-life you might consider is wildflower meadows, herbal gardens, etc.  Not only will you decrease ticks in these areas, you will attract butterflies to your outdoor home.

-  Talk to your vet!  If these remedies don’t work, then the vet will be able to suggest treatments that can help, such as a tick collar, or sprays or drops that can be applied monthly to the dogs skin.  There are also pills your dogs can take.  Talk to an expert to help you make the best decision.

Ticks can be bothersome to us and our pets, and they can cause diseases as well.  For more information on how to handle a tick should it manage to get past your tick-free safe-zone, read the blog on Ticks – Evicting Them From Your Body

By BitMED Provider: Allison Godchaux MD