Tick Protection in Oak Park
Do you know what to do if you find a tick on your pet? If you said “panic,” that’s not the answer! Ticks are touted as being dangerous harbingers of disease, but the fact is, with appropriate tick prevention and removal, the risks of contracting disease are actually quite low. Our goal is to educate pet owners about the types of ticks in our area, how to avoid them, and how to safely remove them.
Types of Ticks in Illinois & Where to Find Them
There about 15 types of ticks in Illinois, but only three have been known to bite and transmit disease to humans and pets. These include:
- Black-legged tick – transmitter of Lyme disease
- Lone Star tick – transmitter of Rocky Mountain spotted fever and ehrlichiosis
- American dog tick – transmitter of Rocky Mountain spotted fever and ehrlichiosis
- Brown dog tick – transmitter of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, and babesiosis
Ticks are usually found in wooded and grassy areas and can be brought into your yard by wild animals. Despite common beliefs, ticks do not drop out of trees or fly. They only crawl, and to find a host, they wait in the “questing” position on a leaf or blade of grass for a potential host to pass by. When a host passes by, they latch on. Some will immediately take a bite, while others will wander around, looking for an opportune spot to feed.
Preventing Tick Bites
To avoid tick bites, follow our animal hospital’s advice:
- Keep your dog out of forested or grassy areas where ticks are common.
- Use pet-safe tick repellant for your dog when going hiking in the woods.
- Make sure your pet’s tick prevention medication is up to date, especially through the summer. If they’re currently unprotected, talk to your veterinarian!
- Clear your yard of tick-friendly habitats including leaf litter, brush, and tall grass. Discourage wild animals, too, with a fence or barrier.
- Wear long sleeves and pants when venturing into a tick-infested area, and make sure to tuck your shirt into your pants and your pants into your socks to reduce the amount of skin exposed.
- Apply tick repellant or permethrin to your clothes to ward off any questing ticks.
- Frequently check yourself and your pet for ticks during and after your time outdoors. The sooner you find any ticks, the sooner you can remove them.
Safe Tick Removal
If you do find a tick on yourself, or your pet, don’t panic! According to the CDC, it takes several hours of feeding for a tick to transmit disease, so as long as you catch it early, you’re good to go. So, on to the removal:
- Protect your hands. Use gloves, a paper towel, something to avoid touching the tick with your bare hands.
- Use tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible.
- Pull straight up with firm but steady pressure. Jerking or twisting the tick could cause it to break off, leaving its mouth parts embedded in the skin.
- Place the removed tick in a sealable container, in case you need to take it to your veterinarian for identification.
- Use an antiseptic on the bite area and tweezers, then wash your hands thoroughly in soap and water.
- Keep an eye on the bite site for any signs of rash and infection, and contact your veterinarian if your pet develops any symptoms.
Have questions about tick protection, prevention, or removal? Contact our animal hospital at (708) 248-8888.