Warm weather has the ability to draw people outside and onto the trails. Walking, hiking, biking, it is great to get out in nature. And while there are so many benefits of getting out in nature, you do need to watch out for the dreaded tick. Most ticks are simply a fleeting nuisance but some can lead to serious illness. So in order to make the most of these warm months out on the trails and enjoying nature, we are giving you a rundown of what to look for, and how to avoid and remove these little pests.
What are ticks?
These creepy, crawly arachnids are egg-shaped and spider-like. Ranging from 1mm to 1cm in length, they are common in woodland, grassland and shrubby areas. Ticks are external parasites that attach themselves to an unlucky host (animal or human) and feed on their blood.
While ticks are most active between spring and fall, they can be found year-round.
They can’t fly and won’t jump at you, but they will drop down onto you or your dog, or climb up if you brush past them while out and about.
How can you avoid getting bitten?
If you will be walking through tall grasses or areas with dense plants and shrubs, wear long sleeved shirts and pants with long socks (preferably pulled up over your pants – you’re going for protection not pretty). If you find any ticks on your clothes, brush them off immediately.
For your dog, there are many tick repellents available on the market as well as natural alternatives. Be wary of making your own solutions with information from the internet, as not all “remedies” will be safe for your pet.
The best way to protect your pet is to routinely check them after a walk. Run your hands over their body, checking for any small lumps or bumps. If you feel any, do a double check, ticks are large enough to spot when you know where to look. And they are likely to be found around a dog’s head, neck, ears or feet.
How do you remove them?
If you or your dog do get bitten it is important to remove ticks as quickly as possible to reduce the risk of them transferring any diseases.
But, it is also important that you remove them properly. If you squeeze a tick’s body this can cause any blood that the tick has eaten to transfer back into yours or your dog’s blood, increasing the risk of infection. You also don’t want the head to get stuck in your skin while removing the body.
So, what you want to do is twist them off. And not with your hands! Get tweezers or better yet, one of those special tick-removing devices that are available at pet stores.
Once you’ve removed a tick, give the area a really good wash. If any redness, swelling or a rash appear, or if you feel unwell, get it checked out. And be sure to let the doctor or vet know that you or your dog were bitten by a tick.
That’s the basics of ticks. And while they are totally gross, don’t let the hype around them deter you from getting out and enjoying all the wonderful things nature has to offer. Be diligent, take precautions and you should be just fine!