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Experts share how to protect pets during peak tick season

Veazie Veterinary Clinic
Veazie Veterinary Clinic(WABI)
Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 4:21 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - You may have heard it from a friend, neighbor or even noticed it yourself: ticks seem to be everywhere this spring.

While you might be familiar with how to shield yourself, what about protecting your pets?

“At this point last year we had received roughly 25 to 30 dog ticks for ID and/or testing. This year, we’ve already received well over 400,” said Griffin Dill, University of Maine Tick Lab coordinator.

Thanks to ideal conditions, dog ticks are peaking early this year, overlapping with what’s already prime deer tick season.

“We had a St. Bernard in with quills and found 13 ticks on that dog,” said Dr. Dave Cloutier, Veazie Veterinary Clinic

Compared to deer ticks, dog ticks are larger and don’t carry Lyme disease, making them more of what Dill calls a “nuisance species” here in Maine.

“The dog tick itself is a little bit more hearty. It can survive and be active in really exposed locations like lawns and around buildings, whereas we generally think of tick habitat as kind of the forested areas, the edge,” Dill said.

When it comes to protecting your pet, Cloutier says there are a couple of different options, and each have their benefits.

“Some owners are really nervous about putting any kind of insecticide in their animal, so in pill form, they would rather not. So then we’re gonna look back at the little tube of liquid, or a collar. But if owners don’t want anything on the surface, especially my owners with children, then absolutely I’m thinking about using one of the pills,” Cloutier said.

There’s a relatively new Lyme disease vaccine for dogs, too.

Still, Cloutier says it’s important to check your pets, and remove any ticks as soon as possible, ideally within 24 hours to prevent disease.

“It would be wonderful if you could give your dog something or your cat something that there was just never a tick on them, ever. We haven’t gotten to that point yet. Even though ticks are gross, the tick in and of itself does not really cause any harm. So dead ticks already on a dog or cat, I’m just gonna pull them off, discard them. Those I’m less worried about than ticks that are still attached, actively feeding. Those are the ones that are a concern,” Cloutier said.

Both Cloutier and Dill invite anyone with questions to reach out to their offices.

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