Many of us were thankful that the winter was mild. Unfortunately, that means wooded and grassy areas will have higher concentrations of ticks this summer. The University of New Haven’s Lyme Disease Research Group has issued a warning that tick season is going to be a doozie. Thanks, 2020.
Post Quarantine, People Are Enjoying the Outdoors
The last few months have been challenging to say the least. Now that parks and trails are open to the public again, cooped up humans are flocking to the great outdoors to find relief. Mild winter temperatures could mean an explosion in the tick population and an increase in Lyme Disease cases.
Ticks Love Wooded and Grassy Areas
If you and your dog hit the trails this summer, you can reduce your exposure risk by steering clear of places where ticks tend to hang out. Tall grassy areas should be avoided. If you are hiking through the woods, stay in the middle of the trail. Open areas are a safer bet over dense forests and tall grass.
Protecting Yourself and Your Dog from Ticks
There are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself and your dog from ticks. Even though it is hot outside, wearing long pants, socks, and long sleeves can be a huge help in avoiding ticks. Insect repellants can be sprayed on clothing, shoes, and skin. The EPA offers a search tool to help you identify which ingredients are needed for the level of protection required.
Protecting your pup from ticks can be a bit trickier. Human insect repellants should not be used on dogs. Instead, choose a product that is safe for dogs. The Happy, Healthy brand of dog products have a host of choices. Their flea and tick spray is made from all-natural ingredients and is perfectly safe for dogs. Spray down your dog’s legs and undercarriage before hitting the trail. The citronella will repel ticks from attaching to your dog’s skin.
What to Do After You Hike
When you return from spending time outdoors, it is very important that you do a thorough check of yourself and your dog. Ticks like to hide in dark, warm spots on the body. Check your head carefully as well as your underarms and other creases.
Carefully check your dog’s body for ticks, head to toe. They can be very tiny so look closely. Just like on your own body, special attention should be paid to dark and warm spots. Look in between your dog’s toes and in the crease between their legs and carriage.
If You Remove a Tick, Do So Carefully
Ticks can be difficult to remove. You have to make sure you remove the entire insect, otherwise, pieces of the bug can be left in the skin, causing infection and irritation. It is also a good idea to keep the tick after removal. One effective method is to place the tick between two pieces of clear packing tape. This may sound weird, but if you get sick after a tick bite and suspect you have contracted Lyme Disease, the tick can be tested to see if it was carrying the disease.
Getting outdoors to enjoy fresh air and nature this summer is going to be great! Be aware that ticks can be a problem and keep you and your dog safe!