Ticks Are Ick
Creepy, crawly, blood-sucking, little jerks. Yep, we all hate ticks. Have you come back from a hike or a walk around the block to find a tick on your dog? Or your cat wanders around the yard and comes back with a tick? Ick.
Tick season in Colorado runs from April through November. They are everywhere- even in the high country. Ticks can live at elevations up to 10,500 feet. There are about 30 different species of ticks in Colorado, but the most common are the Rocky Mountain wood tick and the American dog tick. They stay at the tops of plants or the tips of grasses so they can latch onto whoever or whatever passes near. They can sense body heat, carbon dioxide, body odor and vibrations.
Removing a tick as soon as you see it is the best way to prevent infections or diseases. The way to remove an attached tick from your pet is with a pair of sharp-edged tweezers or with a tick removal tool. If you don’t have either of these, you can cut a “V” into the tip of a plastic spoon. First step is to part the hair around the tick. Next, you need to grip the tick as close to the skin as possible. Don’t squeeze the tick too hard, or you may rupture it or break its mouth parts (gross!). Pull back on the tick until it releases, which takes some patience. Get rid of the creepy thing by dropping it in a container of rubbing alcohol to kill it, then either put it in a sealed bag, wrap it in tape, or flush it. Clean the tick bite site with rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide and clean your tweezers too. Finally- wash your hands.
There is a lot of advice on how to remove ticks- and the following do not work. You can’t safely remove a tick with rubbing alcohol, petroleum jelly, a match, ice cube, or nail polish. Do not try to remove it with your fingers — you could squish or tear the tick and spread infection into the bite area. Veterinarians say that sharp-edged tweezers and tick removal tools are the only safe way to remove a tick. If you don’t have the right tool, or you’re uncomfortable removing it yourself, take your pet to your vet to have it removed.
Ticks can make you and your pets sick. Many people associate ticks with Lyme disease, but fortunately, Colorado doesn’t have the type of tick that carries that illness. Diseases that can be transferred through a tick bite include Colorado Tick Fever, Tick paralysis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Anaplasma, and Ehrlichiosis. If your pet starts to feel sick, be sure to mention ticks they’ve had to your veterinarian.
To prevent ticks, we recommend using a quality brand of repellant such as Advantix or Frontline (can be purchased over the counter or online). Never apply a tick prevention that is labeled for dogs to cats, as some of the ingredients for dogs can be toxic to cats.
My name is Maui, and I’m a young cattle dog and shepherd mix. I’m full of energy and love. Playing ball is one of my favorite things, and, unlike ticks, I’d be a great hiking partner for you.