Nearly four weeks ago, local veterinarian Dr. Carmen Millham made an unexpected discovery while on a call to do semen testing on a client’s bulls.
It was April 2 and he found himself pulling 10 ticks from one bull and eight ticks off another. It was the sort of encounter he usually sees in early May.
This year ticks are out earlier than usual, due to warmer temperatures.
Now picking ticks from pets has become a daily occurrence for some dog owners.
Millham says he’s not surprised ticks have appeared so early. He says as soon as temperatures are sustained above -5°Celsius ticks will emerge from their winter hiding spots.
Then they climb up a piece of long grass and dangle there until an unsuspecting mammal walks by.
Millham says ticks have been out since the end of March. Their early emergence has been keeping him and his staff at Outlook Veterinary Clinic busy as people seek insecticides to prevent ticks from making a meal of their pets.
He recommends using a product that may be applied monthly and topically on a dog. The product is absorbed and circulates in the skin to deter ticks from attaching. The chemical will kill ticks as well.
He says people should regularly inspect their pets for ticks, especially if they have been in areas where there are woods or tall grasses. If people find a tick, it should be removed immediately because the longer it is attached to its host, the greater the chance for disease.
People should wear gloves and use tweezers to carefully grasp the exposed section of the tick’s body near the pet’s skin. Gently pull until the tick let’s go. To dispose of the tick, wrap it in tissue and flush it down the toilet. People should not crush, burn or suffocate a tick as these actions could spread infectious bacteria that cause Lyme disease.