As people start heading outdoors this spring, it is important to remember to take preventative measures against ticks. Some ticks can transmit serious and possibly fatal diseases. In Ohio, these include: Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis and babesiosis. These diseases can be transmitted only by the bite of an infected tick. An infected animal or person cannot pass the infection on to another animal or person. Use caution when removing ticks from pets and be sure to check yourself and loved ones after spending time in ticks’ habitat.
Preventing tick bites for you and your family
While it is a good idea to take preventive measures against ticks year-round, be extra vigilant in warmer months (April through September) when ticks are most active.
Avoid direct contact with ticks
- Avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
- Walk in the center of trails.
- 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. Always follow product instructions. Parents should apply this product to their children, avoiding their hands, eyes and mouth.
- Use products that contain permethrin for clothing. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents. It remains protective through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is available and remains protective for up to 70 washings.
- Find information for other repellents registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Find and remove ticks from your body
- Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.
- Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon return from tick-infested areas. Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist and especially in their hair.
- Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats and day packs.
- Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks. (Some research suggests that shorter drying times may also be effective, particularly if the clothing is not wet.)
Preventing tick bites on your pets
Dogs are susceptible to tick bites and tick-borne diseases. With the exception of Lyme disease, vaccines are not available for most of the tick-borne diseases that dogs can get, and they can’t keep the dogs from bringing ticks into your home. For these reasons, it’s important to use a tick-preventive product on your dog.
Tick bites on dogs may be hard to detect. Signs of tick-borne disease may not appear for 7 to 21 days or longer after a tick bite, so watch your dog closely for changes in behavior or appetite if you suspect that your pet has been bitten by a tick.
To reduce the chances that a tick will transmit disease to you or your pets:
- Check your pets for ticks daily, especially after they spend time outdoors.
- If you find a tick on your dog, remove it right away.
- Ask your veterinarian to conduct a tick check at each exam.
- Talk to your veterinarian about tick-borne diseases in your area.
- Reduce tick habitat in your yard.
- Talk with your veterinarian about using tick preventives on your pet.
Note: Cats are extremely sensitive to a variety of chemicals. Do not apply any insect acaricides or repellents to your cats without first consulting your veterinarian.
How to remove a tick
- 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/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.
Page Updated: 3/24/2015