Dispelling Myths About Ticks

Tick | Heidi's Hounds | South Shore MA

Our beautiful New England Fall weather has given way to a lot of ticks this season. We’re finding ticks on client’s pets on a regular basis. Not only are these critters gross, but there is much about them most people don’t understand.

DISPELLING THE MYTHS

Ticks Die After the First Frost – Not True! Deer ticks can remain active throughout the winter and into spring as long as temperatures are not below freezing. Other species, such as the Lone Star tick and the American dog tick, don’t die off at all, they just become dormant in the colder temperatures.

Big Ticks Aren’t a Problem – The largest ticks are those that are in the adult phase. It is these adults that transmit Lyme disease. In fact, the Black-legged tick, which is also known as the “deer” tick, is the largest tick in North America. Estimates suggest that more than half of all deer ticks are infected with Lyme disease causing bacteria.

Ticks Don’t Bite in the Winter – The Black-legged deer tick is most likely to bite in the winter months, affecting humans, dogs, cats and horses more often than any other mammals. Black-legged deer ticks come in three sizes. The small larvae, which are nearly microscopic; the larger nymphs, which are also quite tiny; and the larger adult stage ticks, which can be easily seen with the naked eye. These are the ones that transmit Lyme disease.

Ticks Are More Active in the Summer – If weather conditions are right, the adult Black-legged deer can be active all year long. The adult stages of the Black-legged deer tick are most active during seasonal weather changes between summer and fall and post the most threat during the month of October. The nymph phase is most active as the weather changes between spring and summer.

You Can’t Get Lyme Disease When It Snows – Pet owners need to be aware that ticks will latch on to a new host, first coming into the home via a pet and potentially switching to a larger host (such as a human) at any time when the temperature is near freezing or at freezing. This is to help them survive the winter season. Lyme disease can be contracted all year-long.

Lyme Disease Can Be Transmitted in Minutes – Actually, studies show that it takes at least 48 hours for ticks to begin transmitting Lyme disease through their saliva. If you check your pets, and other family members on a daily basis, you can prevent transmission before it even occurs.

Preventive methods, such as the topical treatments we use on our pets, and clothing repellents we use on ourselves, are never 100 percent effective. However, it is absolutely worth using these measures of defense to decrease the risk of tick borne disease to your pets and your family members.