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The Importance of Tick Removal

What Are Ticks?

lone-star-tick-thumbnailFlat, eight-legged and eager to bite, ticks are parasites commonly found attached to the skin of humans and animals. Most tick encounters occur in the woods or in grassy fields, and are often not immediately discovered.

In urban areas, the most common tick is the brown tick, which is especially prone to attaching itself to dogs. In the most severe cases, tick-infested dogs can die of blood loss.

Ticks usually live long enough and get around well enough to feed off multiple hosts. For this reason, they can communicate flu-like diseases from one host to the next. Symptoms include rashes, fever and joint stiffness, so if you experience anything like this after suffering a tick bite, see a doctor.

Tick-transmitted woes:

  • Itchy or inflamed skin
  • Swelling of the bite
  • Infections
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever
  • Tularemia—which causes fever and affects lymph nodes
  • Lyme disease—causing arthritis and nervous-system disorders

Tick behavior

Ticks like to hang out on the edges of grass and bushes and jump onto people or animals as they pass by. Contrary to myth, they don’t drop from trees. Any area with a lot of grass and shrubbery is a good place for ticks. When they attach, they burrow into your skin and have to be removed. Be warned, though: Matches, grease and anything of the sort won’t get rid of them and might exacerbate the risk of infection.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

  • Before feeding, body is round and flat. If the tick has been feeding, the body will become enlarged in a balloon-like way
  • Ticks have 8 short yet skinny legs, which cause them to get around very slowly
  • When combing through pets’ hair, ticks will appear as dark dots on the exposed skin. Unlike fleas, they will not try to get back into the thicker parts of the hair once exposed
  • Ticks can be present anywhere there is shrubbery. They will hang out on leaves and wait to jump onto passing humans and animals. Any time you walk close to greenery, be sure to check yourself for ticks

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