The weather is warm, you’ve been cooped up inside a lot more than usual lately, and you’re itching to get outside. Well, if you’re not prepared, you’ll really be itching, and worse! After all, you’re not the only one shaking off the winter blues – so are the bugs and the beasties. And some of the worst beasties of all will be out there in force: ticks! In this brief guide, we’re going to give you some great tips to prepare your home, your property, your pets, and yourself, from those pesky little beasts.
At Termiguard Services, we’re the leading experts on tick control and prevention. Our comprehensive tick control plans – especially our TG Plus Vector Plan, provide serious protection against ticks.
The Seasonal Tick Cycle
Ticks don’t like to be out during the cold winter, so they go mostly dormant. After all, who wants to be out spending all that energy trying to get food when the weather is nasty? Ticks certainly don’t. That’s not to say they’re totally inactive in the winter – they are a year-round insect – but they’ll really start biting once the temperatures are consistently a few degrees above freezing.
Why Worry About Ticks?
Besides the gross annoyance of having to remove them from your skin, and the pain and itching their bites leave behind, ticks can spread diseases, including Lyme Disease, Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and other serious and potentially deadly infections.
Lyme Disease is a nasty one, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Skin rashes, headaches, dizziness, heart palpitations, fever, chills, muscle and joint pain, numbness, tingling, swollen lymph nodes – those are just the highlights. More severe symptoms can include paralysis, spasms, mental confusion, and nervous system disorders. Lyme Disease is a bacterial disorder, and it’s generally treated with antibiotics.
And Lyme Disease doesn’t just hit humans. It can also affect your precious pets. Like humans, your dog friend can exhibit fever, loss of appetite, reduced energy, lameness, stiffness, discomfort and pain, and joint swelling. If not treated, your pet might experience kidney failure, which can be fatal! That’s why it’s critical that if your dog gets bitten by a tick, you absolutely must take it to the vet for evaluation. Your vet will do two blood tests to check for Lyme Disease, and if your dog is shown to be positive for the disease, your vet will likely prescribe antibiotics for at least thirty days.
Anaplasmosis is a bacterial disease carried by certain species of ticks. Like Lyme Disease, it can cause fever, muscle aches, headaches, and chills and shaking. Anaplasmosis can also cause nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and other such unpleasant symptoms.
Anaplasmosis is less common than Lyme Disease, but you should still be aware of the symptoms and see your doctor if you suspect you’ve been exposed.
Another less common infection caused by certain species of ticks is Babesiosis, which is a protozoan infection that is treated with antimicrobial drugs. Babesiosis symptoms include a high fever, muscle aches, fatigue, chills, loss of appetite, headaches, and anemia. As with all such diseases, if you suspect you’ve been exposed, see your doctor immediately.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is transmitted by the American dog tick, also called the wood tick. It’s a bacterial infection that is usually treated by doxycycline. Symptoms of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever include an abrupt onset of fever, headache, malaise, rash, nausea, and vomiting. The rash from Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever usually starts as spots on the wrists and ankles, which then start to spread.
Ticks can carry a myriad of other diseases, many of which have similar symptoms – fever, nausea, headache, and the like. And some of these diseases can be life-threatening. See your doctor immediately if you’ve been bitten by a tick so you can start any needed treatment as soon as possible.
Protect Yourself This Tick Season
If you’re going to be hiking in the woods where ticks are likely to be present, there are a few key steps to take to keep yourself safe. For yourself: Wear light-colored clothing, and spray yourself down with repellents made with DEET, permethrin, picaridin, IR3535, or other repellants that the EPA has shown safely repel ticks. Wear long pants, not shorts, and tuck your pants into your socks to provide another obstacle between the ticks and your skin. Most importantly, understand where you’re going to be going and look for where ticks are most likely to be. Ticks can’t fly or jump – they hide at the tips of vegetation, like long grass, and grab onto clothing or fur as a victim brushes past.
Once you’re out of the woods, inspect yourself carefully for tick bites, and remove the ticks promptly. It’s important to do a full-body inspection, using a full-length mirror so you can look at every area where a tick might be. Look everywhere, but especially under the arms, in and around ears, inside of the navel, the back of the knees, in head or body hair, between your legs, and around your waist. You may have ticks on you that haven’t yet attached, and it’s critical to get them off of you before they have a chance to chomp down. Take a hot shower soon after returning, as doing so has been shown to help prevent the onset of Lyme Disease, and wash all of your clothing in hot water.
Protect Your Pets
The most important thing you can do to protect your furry friend is to consult with your veterinarian about preventative medications, topical treatments, collars, or shampoos. Your veterinarian will have the most knowledge about what your pet needs, so it’s important to see your vet before you venture out into the wilds with your pooch.
Once your pet is properly protected with whatever your vet recommends, it’s important to perform regular inspections after your dog goes outside, and especially if you’re taking a nice hike with your dog. You should inspect your dog’s feet and between the toes, under their legs, on their lips, around their eyes, around and inside their ears, near the anus area, and generally under the tail. Check under the dog’s collar, and do an all over inspection looking for bumpy areas or unknown protrusions.
And as stated above, it’s critical that if your furry friend is bitten, you must remove the tick immediately and then take your dog to the vet for evaluation as soon as possible. Lyme Disease is no joke, and your furry friend will appreciate your vigilance and attention to preventing this awful disease.
Protect Your Home
A good first step to tick prevention is to protect your home and property from the beasties. There are a few basic steps you can take.
Keep your grass mown, weeded, and all tall vegetation cut down and properly trimmed. Give ticks as few hiding places in your yard as possible. Look for leaf debris, weeds, brush and leaves piled in your yard, and remove those. Move wood piles away from your house. If you’re on the edge of a wooded area, make sure you keep kids and pets out of the woods without proper protection, and keep children’s play structures well away from the edge of the woods. If you’ve been out in the woods where you suspect ticks, wash your clothing in hot water and inspect yourself and your pets carefully before you enter your property to avoid carrying ticks home with you.
Contact the Professionals
Once you have the basics covered, contact a professional pest control company that can give you the protection and peace of mind you need. TermiGuard’s TG Plus Vector service offers an unbeatable level of tick prevention and control – defense for general pests up to 20 feet from your foundation, year-round protection with six scheduled annual visits, and a significant reduction of ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes during the height of bug season.
As we’ve said throughout this article, ticks are no joke. Visit our website at www.termiguardusa.com to find out more about how we can help give you the peace of mind to be sure you, your family, and your pets are properly protected from ticks and the diseases they spread.