Ticks are very prevalent in Connecticut and some of them carry tick-borne diseases. Remember, being bitten by a tick does not mean that your dog or cat will automatically get sick. The healthier your pets are overall, the more resistant they’ll be to any disease. Here are some facts about ticks:
1. Ticks like leaf litter and high grass. If you can control access your pet has to these areas, or modify your yard, you can make a big difference.
2. Ticks hibernate over the winter but do not die in the cold. They can be reactivated by any warm spell.
3. Ticks have life cycles and bursts of higher population.
4. You can safely use an herbal repellant frequently on your dog or cat (always check labels for safety instructions). While not a pesticide, herbal repellants can discourage ticks from burrowing deep in the coat or imbedding.
5. It takes at least 24 hours for tick-borne diseases to be transmitted by an attached tick.
6. If you are seeing lots and lots of ticks even with an herbal repellent, consider using a pyrethrin or permethrin-based spray. These usually last for a few days, up to a week. These are pesticides, so always check the labels for safety instructions.
7. As with flea prevention, if you are considering using a long-acting topical pesticide, evaluate the overall health of your pet carefully. Watch for counter-actions, and minimize use to reduce toxic load.
8. Cats are much less commonly affected by Lyme disease than dogs.
9. You cannot catch tick-borne disease directly from your dog or cat but you can from ticks they bring inside.
10. As with flea prevention, use caution with herbal repellents containing a high level of essential oils. These can be difficult for some pets to tolerate, especially cats.
11. If your dog has a positive titer (blood test) to one or more tick-borne diseases, your veterinarian will discuss treatment options with you. If your dog is healthy, the approach will be different than if your dog is sick. A titer diagnoses prior exposure, not disease, nor does it predict your dog will get sick.