Protecting Pets from Maryland Tick Threats

tick on maryland godTicks are a serious problem in Maryland. Blacklegged ticks, also called deer ticks, are a major vector for Lyme disease, a dangerous tick-borne disease that can lead to serious health consequences in both humans and pets. And brown dog ticks, which are capable of completing their entire life cycle indoors, are linked to the spread of Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), a severe and often life-threatening tick-transmitted disease. While these are not the only diseases these ticks can spread, they give a clear representation of the threats these ticks pose. And for pet owners in Maryland, this threat is even greater which is why it is vital that all cat and dog owners understand how to guard against tick infestations and protect their pets from contracting tick-borne illnesses!

How Ticks Invade

Ticks can crawl into a yard on their own and into outdoor recreation areas. To prevent ticks from entering your yard or recreation areas in your yard, lay down a barrier of crushed stone or wood chips around the perimeter of your property. Ticks have quite sensitive feet and will not want to crawl over these materials.
However, ticks are most often carried into our yards by wildlife animals. These ticks will usually hitch a ride on small animals such as squirrels, rats, and mice but can also be carried onto our properties by larger animals such as raccoons, skunks, and deer, to name a few. Putting up a fence around your property or around your outdoor recreation areas can help to keep these wildlife invaders out. If you have a dog, also consider creating a fenced-in area for your pet to play in. This will help to keep wildlife out and keep your dog from exploring areas on your property where ticks are likely to hide.
When wildlife come into a yard, it is often because they were attractants such as food. If you leave food outside for your pet, be sure to pick it up between feedings and never leave it out overnight. This will reduce your chance of wildlife bringing ticks into your pets' play area. It is important to control other food sources that may be attracting wildlife invaders to your property as well. Exterior trash is a very strong attractant for wildlife. Make sure to store all your trash in sealed receptacles and to wash those receptacles on a routine basis to reduce odors that may attract animals. If you have a garden or other natural food source, be sure to construct a fence around it to keep it from becoming a food source for wildlife; all fencing should be installed so that it reaches at least a foot below the surface to prevent wildlife from tunneling under it. If you have an outdoor cooking area, be sure to clean up when you are done cooking or eating. Dishes and containers from cooking can also draw pest animals to your yard.
Furry wildlife animals aren't the only animals that can bring ticks into your yard. Ticks can also be introduced to our properties by birds. If you have bird feeders in your yard, keep them out of your pets' play areas and away from the perimeter of your home’s foundation.
Ticks require a lot of moisture in order to survive. For this reason, they will gravitate to shaded and moist locations on your property. Oftentimes, ticks will hide in the landscaping near the home. You can make these locations less habitable for ticks by keeping them dry. To reduce the moisture levels around your home, trim tree branches to allow the sun to dry the soil, clean out obstructed gutters, and repair leaky pipes, broken gutters, or leaky spigots.
Ticks don’t climb exterior walls or squeeze into our homes through gaps, cracks, and holes but many of the creatures that carry ticks do. Therefore, every measure you take to exclude mice, rats, and other wildlife animals will keep you and your pets from being exposed to ticks inside your home. To keep tick-carrying pests from infiltrating your home, seal any holes, gaps, and cracks in the exterior of your home and install wire mesh in downspouts; also, make sure your screens have no rips, holes, or tears in them and check your window and door frames for any potential entry points and repair them.

Tick Biology & Behavior

When ticks first hatch, they are called seed ticks. These tiny tick larvae will usually choose to attach to smaller animals like mice, rats, and small birds. Once they mature into nymphs, these ticks will leave their first host and chose another, preferably a larger host. These nymph ticks present the greatest risk to humans and pets. Nymphs are smaller than adult ticks, which means they are harder to spot. In addition, during this stage, these ticks are more likely to attach to you or your pet when they are brought into your home on a rodent or other home-invading pest. For this reason, as well as many others, it is important to have a licensed professional take care of rodent problems as soon as they appear.  

Personal Protection

Your front line defense against ticks will be veterinarian-prescribed tick control products. However, it is important to understand that these products do not offer 100% protection for your pet. Along with these prevention products, consider the following tips:

  • Perform routine tick checks on your pets, especially when coming back from a walk. Common areas that ticks attach to our pets include in or near the ears, underneath collars, near the groin area, at the base of the tail, and in between the toes. When inspecting your pet, be sure to look closely as seed ticks can be very small. When you remove ticks, be sure to pinch them near the head as close to the skin as possible with a tick-removal tool or tweezers to reduce the risk of disease transmission.

  • Avoid tall grass and woodland areas while taking your pet out for a walk.

  • Consider applying a mosquito repellent to your pet if you intend on visiting an area where ticks may be. It is a good idea to put mosquito repellent on your legs and feet as well when spending time in potentially tick-ridden areas. Mosquito repellents also work to repel ticks.

Yard Protection

If you have fewer ticks in your yard, you'll have fewer run-ins with ticks both in your yard and inside your home. That is why many homeowners invest in routine treatments to control ticks! At American Pest, we offer a mosquito & tick control program to address both of these dangerous, disease-spreading pests. Our mosquito & tick control program is a monthly seasonal service that includes exterior mosquito treatments and exterior tick spraying. Give us a call today to learn more about this helpful option. 


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