Ticks Suck!

Categories: Dog Health
By Jennifer Lueck

 Tick season is upon us in Wisconsin and it’s bad again this year. We even had to postpone the Hiking Club excursion to Kettle Moraine until July because of all the ticks!

We have two types of ticks in Wisconsin, the deer tick and the American dog tick (also known as the wood tick). Ticks can carry diseases in their saliva, which they can pass to a host when they feed. It generally takes 24 to 48 hours of feeding before an infected tick can spread a disease, so quick removal of ticks is essential. The most well known tick-born disease (TBD) is Lyme disease, which is spread by deer ticks. Other serious TBD’s include Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and tick paralysis, which are spread by American dog ticks.

Deer ticks are no longer just an “up north” thing. A tick census conducted last fall by UW-Madison entomologist Dr. Susan Paskewitz found that deer ticks now appear in most places in Wisconsin. In Illinois, deer ticks are believed to be established in Cook, Dupage, Will and Lake Counties.

The American Veterinary Association recommends the following steps for reducing your dog’s risk of TBD’s:

  • Remove ticks immediately.
  • During tick season, treat pets with an appropriate tick preventative.
  • After hiking, camping or any other activities in tick-prone areas, examine your pets for ticks as soon as you arrive home.

To search for ticks on your dog, run your hands over your dog’s entire body, feeling for anything out of the ordinary. Ticks are often found around the eyes, ears, neck (under the collar) and feet, inside armpits and between toes. They can attach anywhere, so you really have to search the whole dog. (After you’ve checked your dog, be sure tocheck yourself!)

Despite the recent tick population explosion, experts are not recommending people avoid outside activities. The best way to prevent tick-borne diseases is careful examination after visiting tick-prone areas and to seek treatment immediately if symptoms develop.

How to Remove a Tick
  • With a tweezers or tick-removing device,grasp the tick close to the skin a pull straight out.
  • Do not twist or jerk as you pull, or the head may come off and remain in the host.
  • Wash the bite with soap and water or an antiseptic
  • Place the tick in a plastic container marked with the date in case your dog shows signs of illness.
  • Wash your hands
How NOT to Remove a Tick
There is a plethora of old wives’ tails about removing ticks from touching a tick’s rear end with a lit match or hot needle, to smothering it with petroleum jelly, nail polish remover or a glob of soap. These methods do not work and in some cases might make matters worse by causing the tick to release additional saliva, which can increase the chance of transmitting a disease to its host.
“Beating Those Awful Ticks” by Jan Mahood, American Kennel Club Family Dog, May/June 2008
“Ticked Off”
Wisconsin DNR website http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/Features/LymeDisease/
“Deer Tick Control” by Phil Pellitteri, UW Extension Insect Diagnostic Lab: http://www.entomology.wisc.edu/ticks.pdf
“Still ticking: Ticks and Lyme disease aren’t so rare in SE Wisconsin” By David Steinkraus, The Journal Times Online, June 9, 2009. http://www.journaltimes.com/articles/2009/06/09/health/doc4a2ed227a1097672772095.txt