8 Scratchy Tips About Ticks

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Think you know ticks? Ticks can be a deadly pest year round, depending on where you live, so be prepared with intel. We’ve got eight handy tips about ticks, one for each leg!

  1. Ticks are arachnids. Does that fact get your Spidey sense tingling? Ticks are closely related to spiders. I like to think of them as tiny little blood sucking spiders.
  2. Ticks go through four life stages: egg, larva, nymph and adult. Once they hatch, they need to suck blood during every stage in their cycle to survive. It can take up to three years to complete the lifecycle, thankfully many ticks will die because they can’t find a host.
  3. We are seriously outnumbered. There about 850 tick species. Just let that sink in for a minute. Thankful only a few of these species are capable of transmitting diseases, such as Lyme disease, Ehrlichia, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
  4. Different tastes. Most species of ticks require a different host animal for each stage of their life. Some species use the same host species throughout their life cycle. Regardless of where they are getting their meal, ticks take their time going about it. Sometimes ticks bite fairly quickly, while others can take up to two hours to latch on. Ticks can stay on a host for two to three days.
  5. Ticks aren’t born diseased. If they become infected, they acquire the disease during feeding, and pass them along onto other animals during feedings in other life stages. Ticks can pass on disease in all of their life cycles, but it is most common that disease is spread in the nymph stage.
  6. More bang for their bite. A single tick is capable of transmitting multiple diseases in a single bite! It’s all the more reason to take precaution with your pets and yourself. You can relax knowing that the rate of transmission varies by the tick and the disease. But it is usually not instant. Some studies suggest that it takes 36-48 hours for Lyme disease to take effect. If your pet is acting out of the ordinary, don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian.
  7. Don’t believe everything you read. The Internet is filled with all sorts of suggestions for removing ticks from your pets. Rubbing petroleum jelly or other chemicals on a tick will not suffocate it. Ticks can hold their breath for a very long time, and these chemicals are harmful to your pet.
  8. Tweezers, please. This might be a two person job – one person to hold your pet, the other to remove the tick. Use tweezers to grab as close to the skin as possible. Pull steadily and slowly upwards. The head of the tick is buried in the skin. Twisting or pulling too fast may cause the head to be removed from the tick’s body, and that just isn’t good. We want the whole thing to come out. If the head does break off, your pet’s body will likely be able to work it out on its own, kind of like a sliver. Be sure to keep an eye on the spot for signs of possible infection.