In the Inland Northwest, tick season starts in March and lasts into August. Found in brushy areas, the female tick must first become engorged with blood before dropping off and laying eggs in the environment to hatch the next season. Ticks will usually travel to the top of the back, or on the head, before attaching and beginning to eat.
To the pet, the wood tick does pose some health risks including Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and tick paralysis which is an allergy to the saliva of the tick resulting in paralysis of the rear legs, which progresses forward over time. Ticks from other parts of the country can carry a more wide range of diseases, many of which are transmissible to people. Lyme disease is one example but is uncommon in our area.
We recommend checking your dog, and yourself, carefully after walking in the woods or fields during the spring and summer to remove ticks before they attach. Combing your pet is the best way to remove ticks prior to attachment. Should you find ticks attached to your pet they can be removed by gently grasping them near the skin and pulling them straight off your pet. Do not squeeze the body of the tick as this can actually push tick contents into the animal. We recommend wearing rubber or latex gloves when doing this to protect yourself from tick transmitted diseases. Alternately, you can give them medication to kill the tick and it will fall off.
While there are several products for sale to both prevent and kill ticks, in our experience few are very effective. However, a new class of drugs to treat for ticks has come out recently and they are vastly better. Both Bravecto and Nextgard work well to control ticks and are available through your veterinarian as prescription medications.
Should you have any question about this article, you can contact Dr. Hunter at 509-327-9354.