The Truth About Ticks

Working in the veterinary field, I’ve seen more than my fair share of ticks (ew). It turns out that you may be seeing more in the near future too! Ticks are travelling to our Lake Erie shores by way of bird migration. New tick species are finding their way here too, and the ticks are now endemic to our area. So what can you do to protect yourself and your pet? Well, we must start by understanding a ticks habitat and what species exist in this area.

Below, I’ll list the most common species of ticks:

American Dog Tick/Wood Tick

  • Very common species, found in grassy fields, walkways and trails
  • Can transmit tick-borne diseases (Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Tularemia)

Blacklegged/Deer Tick

  • Found mostly in wooded areas
  • Can transmit Lyme disease, other tick-borne diseases (Babesia, Anaplasma)

Lone Star Tick (new to the area)

  • Found mostly in woodlands and dense undergrowth
  • Can transmit tick-borne diseases (Ehrlichia), including a red meat allergy in humans

Did you know?…

  • It only needs to be a temperature of 4 degrees and above for ticks to be active
  • Ticks come in many different sizes depending on their life stage
  • Ticks do not jump, fly or drop from trees
  • Ticks hang out on long grass/brush and when you walk past they grab on
  • It takes a few days for the tick to become “engorged” (fill up with blood)
  • Typically, it takes 24-48 hours for ticks to transmit Lyme disease from their saliva, although not all deer ticks carry Lyme
  • Ticks can be transmitted to you from your dog or cat if they haven’t attached yet
  • You cannot feel them bite

Tick Removal

  • Pull out with tweezers directly at the base of their head (attachment site), then
    twist back and forth while gently pulling.
  • We have special tools here at the clinic called “Tick Twisters” to help remove
  • If the ticks head is still inside, clean area and watch for signs of infection.
  • DO NOT burn or soak them in alcohol. This can cause a panic effect and may
    make the transfer of diseased saliva transmit faster.
  • DO NOT kill the tick. Put it in a jar and submit to your Veterinary clinic (if
    attached to your pet) or Health Unit (if it was attached to a human).

How to protect your pet

  • Call your veterinary clinic. They have multiple tick coverage products for dogs
    and cats that really work!
  • Be sure to follow instructions on product packaging to produce optimal results.
  • Brush your pet regularly.
  • Keep lawn grass cut.
  • Homemade topical sprays and pet store products will not work and can potentially be harmful to your pet.

How to protect yourself

  • After being outside, especially in wooded/grassy areas, check yourself for ticks,
    shower and wash clothing in hot water.
  • Bug spray with DEET may help to repel ticks BUT clothing treated with
    Permethrin is best.
  • Wearing long pants, long shirts, and hats can prevent ticks from skin contact.


Although tick numbers are rising, we do have ways to protect ourselves and our pets.

For more information on ticks:

Written by Kelly Adams-Rankin, RVT