Is 2022 A Ticking Time Bomb?
You bet it is, in more ways than one. This year the risk of vector-borne diseases is very high. CAPC (Companion Animal Parasite Council) has released its 2022 forecast, and they expect the incidence of these diseases to be higher than average. This includes: Lyme, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, and Heartworm. These diseases, spread by ticks and mosquitos, are serious health risks for your pet.
Sadly it's a perfect storm coming together that creates this problem. Due to short and long-term changes in climate conditions, many areas of our country now have shorter and more mild winters, which always increases the number of pests around. Another factor is the habitat loss for our wildlife, now these animals are moving into our suburbs and cities. These wild critters can then spread ticks into your area.
So now what? Our best advice is to be prepared. Ticks are small and easy to miss, and if you have a furry pet or one with a dark coat, these pests can be difficult to find. It is essential to use a flea and tick preventative Rx on your pet. There are many kinds to choose from - you may want to discuss which works best in your area with your veterinarian. There are topicals that you put on your pet's fur, flea and tick collars, and oral preventatives. Just be sure to use them on ALL of your pets, even if Fluffy stays in most of the time.
After a trip outside, you may want to inspect your buddy, even if they are on a preventative medication. Common spots for ticks are around the mouth, eyes, and ears. Ticks also gather on feet, between toes, legs, and around the tail area. But they can latch on to any part of your pet. Some preventatives repel ticks, which means that if your pet has a preventative and gets a tick, it won't want to stay on them. However, this means the tick may end up on you, so keep a close eye!
If you find a tick, the faster you get it off your pet (or yourself), the less chance it has to spread disease. It's easy, and after the first removal, you'll be an expert! At the end of this article is a link with written and video instructions on removing ticks.
Here are a few more suggestions for avoiding ticks. Stay away from tall grass and foliage, keep your grass cut as short as possible, and remove leaf litter in your yard. Keep your walks on sidewalks or streets if you can during tick season. If hiking, try and keep your dog (and yourself) in the middle of the trail. You may want to use bug spray on yourself or your clothing when in the woods. There is a Lyme disease vaccine for dogs; discuss it with your vet. It isn't 100% effective, but it may be helpful if you live in a heavily infested area.
Heartworm, like tick diseases, has been diagnosed in all 50 states. To keep your pet safe from Heartworm, use a preventative. Here is a great map, updated monthly, that shows the risk of these diseases in our state. You can change the map from Heartworm to the Tick forecast by putting your cursor on the dropdown menu on the blue menu bar where it says "Heartworm."
This year we need to be extra vigilant in fighting vector-borne disease. Once you get in the habit of tick checks, they will only take a few minutes. Let's keep both our dogs and cats disease free!
How to Remove a Tick