Practical Tips to Protect Your Family and Pets From Tick Bites

By Tiffany Chaney

Ticks used to be the most active in the spring and fall, but Harvard Health reports that tick season is expanding as warm temperatures increase due to climate change. Take the following precautions to protect your family and pets against ticks year-round. 

How to Prevent Ticks From Biting Humans

Prevention is the best method for families to guard against tick bites. Keep these tips in mind.

1. Avoid Areas Where Ticks Lurk

Are you an outdoor enthusiast? Follow the marked trail, and avoid overgrown brush and wooded areas as you take in the stress-free surroundings. Ticks fall or climb long blades of grass to find their next feast.

2. Make Your Yard Unfriendly to Ticks

Keep your lawn trimmed and free of weeds. Put up a fence to dissuade deer from roaming through the yard. Hire a pest control company that uses control measures that are friendly to nature, your children, and your pets.

3. Wear Long Clothing to Keep Ticks Off

Can’t get around visiting an area thick with ticks? Wear long sleeves and pants tucked into your socks to create a barrier between you and the ticks. Double check the clothes of your little ones to ensure their clothing is secure.

  1. Select an Effective Tick Repellent

Did you know that you can buy clothing pretreated with permethrin (an insecticide)? If that’s not up to your comfort level, you can select a product that contains DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), picaridin, IR3535, 2-undecanone, or para-menthane-diol (PMD) to repel ticks. 

Make sure you’re aware of the concentration of active ingredients in the repellent. Harvard Health advises to look for “…at least 20% but not more than 50% with DEET; between 5% to 20% with picaridin; and 10% to 30% with oil of lemon eucalyptus.” If you experience any sensitivity to the product, cease usage immediately.

The EPA’s search tool can help you select an effective tick repellent for your needs.
 

Protecting Pets From Ticks

Just as some cats love playing in the water, some dogs are even more active than their owners outdoors. How can you protect your pets from ticks? Avoid commercial tick repellants made for human use on your pets. 

Talk to your veterinarian before using DIY tick repellent recipes on your pets. Instead, ask for references of repellents made specifically for pets; one example your vet may suggest is Frontline.

Dealing With Ticks After Exposure

Once home, check your clothing and body for ticks, including your family and pets. When inspecting your body, don’t forget to have someone check your scalp and behind your ears and knees, as well as other crevices. Take a shower after you’ve been exposed to possible tick bites within the first few hours of arriving home. 

Tumble dry all clothing on a high heat setting for ten minutes to kill ticks hiding in your clothes.

How to Safely Remove a Tick

What do you do when you find a tick? To safely remove a tick, do the following:

  1. Grasp the tick as near the skin as possible using fine-point tweezers.
  2. Gingerly retrieve the tick. If its mouthparts are still in the skin, let them fall out independently. Store the tick in a secure container for identification purposes.
  3. Use warm water and a gentle soap to clean the bite area. Then, dab it with rubbing alcohol.
  4. Symptoms of a more serious tick infection or possible disease may follow. If you suffer from fever, headaches or body aches, make an appointment with your doctor immediately. If you notice that your pet is acting differently, contact your veterinarian ASAP.

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