Tick Season is Back in Illinois
Spring weather means more outdoor activities for you and your pets- and it also means that tick season is back. These nasty little stowaways are just looking for a free ride on the Pet Express, so here’s what you should know about them and how to protect your pets against these pesky parasites now that tick season is back and in full swing.
When Ticks are Active
Tick exposure can occur year-round, but ticks are most active during the warmer months between April and September, according to the CDC. However, know that ticks can be active even on winter days when the ground temperatures are around 45oF.
Where Ticks Live
Ticks are common in the Midwest, especially in our area. In Illinois, there are at least 15 species of ticks; however, the most common ticks that people encounter with their pets are the American dog tick, lone star tick, black-legged (deer) tick, brown dog tick, and winter tick.
Ticks are normally found along roads, paths, trails, and in wooded areas on the tips of grasses and shrubs. From there, they climb onto and attach themselves to an animal (or “host”) as they brush past. Make sure to be mindful when you’re outdoors at local places like the Fox River Trail, forest preserves in Kane, McHenry & other nearby counties, and even local dog parks with wet or wooded areas and tall grass.
How to Protect Your Pets from the Terrible Tick
Ticks can cause Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Babesiosis, Bartonellosis, and Hepatozoonosis. These diseases can have serious effects on your pet’s health- and also on yours. The best way to protect against ticks and tick-borne diseases is by taking preventive measures to keep your pet safe. Pet parents can do this by:
- Using effective tick-preventive products (your veterinarian can recommend a product that’s right for your pet);
- Working with your vet to decide if vaccinating against Lyme disease is recommended, based on your pet’s lifestyle, health, & other factors;
- Avoiding tall grasses, marshes, & wooded areas when possible;
- Maintaining lawns and clearing out brush near/around your home; and
- Checking for ticks on your pets (and yourself!) when you come indoors. On your pets, check warm, moist areas of their bodies. Make sure to check locations like the scalp, ears, elbows, groin area, between the toes, and under the collar, tail, & legs.
Sources: AVMA- https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/petcare/lyme-disease-pet-owners-guide; CDC- https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/tick-borne/faq.html; Illinois Department of Public Health- https://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/environmental-health-protection/structural-pest-control/common-ticks