How to keep yourself and your pets safe from ticks this summer


Warning: tick-infested area

Related Articles

Ticks are external parasites that live on the blood of mammals, birds, and sometimes reptiles and amphibians. They can transmit Lyme disease, Colorado tick fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tick-borne meningoencephalitis and a number of other diseases. Although you should protect yourself and your pets from ticks year-round — particularly if you live near woody or high grass areas — ticks are most active in the warmer months, from April to September.  


Avoid direct contact

Easier said than done, of course, but the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advise people to avoid woody and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter and to walk in the center of trails.

Ticks are repelled with DEET or Permethrin. Use repellents that contain 20 to 30 percent DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) on exposed skin and clothing for protection that lasts up to several hours, recommends the CDC, following the product instructions and avoiding hands, eyes and mouth.

Tick Identification Guide / copyright 2014 MainelyTicks.com

Use products that contain permethrin on clothing. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents with products containing 0.5 percent permethrin. It remains protective through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is available and may be protective for longer.

For a list of additional repellents registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), click here.


Check your body and your stuff

If you've been in tick-infested areas, take a shower as soon as you get indoors or at least within two hours. Conduct a full-body check using, preferably, a full-length mirror. Check your entire body and your clothing.

A doctor removes a tick from a woman's arm

Children should be thoroughly checked, particularly under their arms, in and around their ears, inside their belly buttons, behind their knees and their hair.

Check all your gear, including backpacks, and tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks.


Check your pets

Dogs are very susceptible to tick bites and tick-borne diseases, so it is absolutely essential to use a tick preventive product on your four-legged best friend. It's really difficult to detect tick bites  on dogs, and signs of disease may not appear for 7 to 21 days or even longer after a tick bite. Nobody knows your dog better than you do — so if he's not acting like himself, whether there are changes in behavior or appetite, take him to the vet.

Removing a tick from a dog

The CDC recommends that, if your dogs spend time outdoors, you check them for ticks daily. Ask your veterinarian about tick preventatives, and whether there are any tick-borne diseases in your neighborhood.

Remove a tick from your body or your pet as follows:

  • Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible.
  • Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don't twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
  • After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub or soap and water.
  • Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag or container, wrapping it tightly in tape or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.

And check your kitties, regardless of whether they are indoor or outdoor cats!



Remedies such as applying nail polish or petroleum jelly to the tick or using heat to make it detach itself from the skin are just time-consuming and not effective. You want and need to remove it as quickly as possible, so grab those tweezers and follow the steps listed above.



If you develop a rash or fever within several weeks of removing a tick, see your doctor immediately.