Ick….It’s a Tick!

                                                                                          UnknownIck…It’s a Tick!

More than once this year, I’ve heard my wife react with disgust at the discovery of a tick on

one of our dogs or cats. It does seem to be a particularly bad year for ticks here in

Southern Oregon, but it’s no reason to fear venturing out with your pooch onto one of our

incredible regional hiking trails. My wife and I live in an area just outside of Jacksonville that

is prime tick habitat, and it’s been necessary for us to come to terms with this reality. But

while ticks are no doubt repulsive creatures, encounters with them and the potential

hazards they bring can be minimized with some simple nontoxic

strategies.

Prevention measures, such as keeping grass short and brush cut back on your property,

can reduce tick habitat. Guinea fowl are particularly adept at clearing ticks and other insect

pests from the land although your neighbors may not appreciate the birds’ raucous

vocalization! Also be sure to keep dogs from running into tall grass, leaf debris and brush

during tick season. Ticks find a meal by perching on vegetation and waiting for an

unknowing host to brush by. Always check your dog (and yourself) for ticks after a walk. It’s

much better to find and remove a tick then drown it in soapy water before it has had a chance

to attach itself. If you do happen to find a tick attached to your pet, don’t panic. Grasp the tick

by the bodyand slowly pull directly outwards until it disattaches. Better yet, a little device called

a “tick key” is virtually foolproof for removing ticks. If the tick has been attached for more than

several hours, swelling around the bite area can make the arachnid difficult to remove

without leaving its head in your pet’s skin. If this should occur, apply an antibacterial

ointment to the area to prevent infection. A Chinese herbal salve called Golden Yellow

Salve is particularly effective in reducing inflammation and infection of tick bites.

It’s important to realize that we do have Lyme and other tick borne diseases here inSouthern

Oregon, which can affect pets, livestock, horses and humans alike, so caution is

definitely warranted. Fear of these diseases, however, is no reason to resort to using the spot on

pesticide products such as Frontline or Advantix. These products carry the very

real potential for adverse toxic effects. In April 2009, the EPA issued an advisory about

spot on products after receiving 44,000 reports of adverse effects the previous year,

ranging from mild skin irritation to seizures and even death. I’ve found a cedar oil spray

product called Evolve (www.wondercide.com) is very effective in preventing pets from

acquiring ticks if used before venturing outside into tick habitat. It can be used safely on

dogs and cats alike. Please note that some cedar and other essential oil products are

unsafe for cats, so read label instructions carefully!

Lyme disease is not nearly the problem in Southern Oregon that it is in the Eastern United

States, but we do have more cases in this region compared to the rest of the Oregon.

There is a vaccination available for Lyme for dogs, but many veterinarians don’t

recommend it due to the high incidence of adverse reaction. Studies have shown that the

large majority of dogs exposed to the Lyme organism never become sick from the

disease. It’s also helpful to know that a tick must be attached to an animal for 48 hours

before Lyme disease can be transmitted another reason to check your pets carefully on a

regular basis during tick season. One one the many benefits of living in this region is our access

to a vast array of outdoor activities. The reality of potentially unappealing things like ticks in the

woods is certainly no reason to not get out there with our pets and enjoy the outdoors!

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