Welcome to Summer! It’s the time of year when families spend more time outdoors than in. Summer brings barbecues, beaches, sunsets, and walks. Summer also brings one of the most disgusting creatures on the planet—ticks.
It’s bad enough that they get on people, but when they get on pets, you can’t always see them under the fur. Then your pets bring the ticks in the house, risking the health of your family and children. While you can’t prevent every tick in your yard, a few easy steps keeps them at a minimum.
#1 – Flea & Tick Preventatives
Flea & tick preventatives represent the most important step in reducing contact between your family and ticks. Use preventative on all dogs and cats in the family. I use and recommend Frontline, but many options are available both over the counter and through your veterinarian. Ask your veterinarian for suggestions for your area.
To reduce the risk of the ticks becoming resistant to the preventative, don’t switch between brands or types frequently, and don’t use multiple kinds of preventative at the same time. Ticks and fleas in different areas become resistant to different brands, so talk to your veterinarian about the best choices for your area.
Never use dog preventative on a cat. Because cats lick themselves, and are typically smaller than dogs, they can overdose. Place the preventative according to the directions, usually between the shoulder blades.
#2 – Lawn Maintenance
Keep the lawn neat. Ticks avoid sunlight. It means exposure to predators and exposure to dehydration. They will stay in areas of heavier cover. Don’t let your children play in the margins of your yard or tall grass during tick season.
Animals that carry ticks, like woodchucks and deer, also prefer to stay concealed. Wide, open spaces mean predators for them as well, so they prefer to stay in taller grass and brushy areas.
#3 – Helpful Predators
If you live in a rural environment, and have been thinking about guinea hens or chickens anyways, take the plunge. These birds eat ticks for dinner—literally. Guinea hens especially love to eat small bugs and insects.
Keep in mind that roosters and guinea hens make a lot of noise, and wake up at the crack of dawn. Hens, however, are relatively quiet but very effective. Hens will eat not only ticks, but mice, frogs, grasshoppers, and kitchen scraps. They cost little to raise, and a small flock will keep your yard tick free.
#4 – Screen At the Door
Preventing ticks in the house requires diligence. Check your pets (and children) thoroughly when they come in from the yard, and brush them off just like you do the kids.
You don’t want you or your family to get a tick bite because a tick fell off your dog in the house (grossness!) Make sure to check under the tail, the ears, between the toes, and in the armpits, as these aren’t spots you’d normally be sticking your fingers.
#5 – Get the Pros
If you find ticks on your pets and kids more than once or twice a week, consult a pro. Ticks transmit serious diseases to both people and pets, and you shouldn’t tolerate them around your children. Diseases like Lyme and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever have serious consequence. A professional can treat both your yard and your house, and break the breeding cycle.
There’s no way to completely remove all ticks from your property, but keeping their numbers low keeps your family safe. Not only are they just disgusting, but they spread serious, infectious diseases to both people and pets. If you’re encountering ticks more than once or twice a month, start a prevention program to keep your pets and family safe.