With the weather having warmed up, those of us outdoor lovin’ dog owners are venturing out onto trails, walking paths or anything else we can do with our dogs in Mother Nature’s glory. Unfortunately, a few of our eight-legged creepy crawly friends are joining us on our adventures and with them they bring all sorts of nasty health and welfare concerns too.
In Michigan, we’ve seen a massive explosion in tick populations statewide. Experts are linking these growth spurts to a variety of factors including the following:
- Warmer winters;
- Suburbanization (bringing wildlife and people in closer proximity);
- A boom in the white-tailed deer population;
- Migratory birds transporting ticks and other parasites to new areas;
- The use of fewer insecticides.
An increase in the tick population means a far greater risk of tick-borne diseases like Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Babesiosis. These diseases can be viral, bacterial or parasitic in nature and each is dangerous in their own rite. Thankfully, there are many easily performed actions that will reduce or prevent these nasty monsters from wrecking havoc on your adventures into Mother Nature’s abode.
To reduce the chances of encountering disease carrying ticks on you or your pets, make sure you adhere to these simple solutions:
- Check your pets and yourself for ticks daily, especially after spending time outdoors.
- Remove any ticks found immediately.
- Have your vet perform a flea and tick check at each exam.
- Become informed about tick-borne diseases and species in your area. (Click here for species identification.)
- Talk to your veterinarian about using flea and tick preventatives on your pet(s).
- Reduce the tick habitat in your yard.
- If out hiking, wear light-colored clothing and check your gear.
While ticks are fast becoming a major problem, their effects on enjoying Mother Nature’s splendor is still fairly simple. We personally follow most of the above suggestions like making sure we dose our dogs (and cats!) with Advantix 2, using an additional spray on us and the dogs (Off! Deep Woods for us and UltraShield EX for the dogs) and following the check and remove (highly recommend this tick remover!) procedure. We still deal with a few ticks here and there but not nearly as bad as they possibly could be (and have been!).
Here’s to a happy and safe tick season (hopefully tick-free!) from our pack to yours on your outdoor adventures.