Hello, Jenn! My family and I are looking forward to our summer excursions in the California Thousand Trails system. We are coming from Northern New Mexico and this will be our first time visiting the west coast for any length of time. We have two King Charles Cavalier Spaniel’s, both of which I love the water. We will shave them for this journey, as I am worried about ticks. I am not accustomed to encountering the little creatures in our area of rural Chama & Farmington and will be using topical treatment rx from the vet. Anything you can suggest for us to be on the lookout for would be appreciated. What about Lyme disease? Rancho Oso is our first stop and we hear the hiking trails there are wonderful.
Happy Trails, Laura and Tim
JENN: Thank you for sharing your summer plans with us and I’m sure your adventures West will be extremely memorable for the entire family. It’s wise that you are thinking ahead and planning for possible critter encounters as they are bound to happen. There are 850 species of ticks in the world- 49 are in California! The most common is the Black Legging Tick, Lxodes Pacificus. These bloodsucking creatures feed on vertebrates by piercing the skin with their special mouthparts. They have upturned hooks specially designed to keep locked in to their chosen host’s skin. Thanks, Mother Nature…! Ticks will be found in all areas of natural vegetation and are especially active in California in the spring and the summer. In general, ticks feed on rabbits, mice, birds and mountain lions but they will absolutely feet on humans, dogs and horses as well. Lyme disease is a bacterium that causes flulike symptoms, including muscle soreness, neck stiffness, headache, slight fever and tiredness. Early symptoms include expanding rash near the tick bite that can occur seven days to one month after the initial bite. In California, the hosts for the Lyme disease are primarily wood rats. Ticks transfer the bacteria from infected wood rats to other wood rats or animals – or humans and our dogs! About 1-6% of the Western Black Legged Ticks carry Lyme disease. I’m glad that you have taken precautions to use a waterproof topical treatment on your pets. Tick check yourself and your clothing to help ward off these little buggers, too. Stay on the designated trails as much as possible. Ticks like to move out to the farthest tips of plants and shrubbery so they can grab a hold of us with their little legs and hook on. Throughout your walk, look around at your extremities and your pets body for ticks that might have jumped onboard- discovering their presence and removing them promptly before they have attached. Tip: I strap a little fanny pack around my waist & carry slanted tweezers, antibacterial wipes or gel, Neosporin and Benadryl tablets with me everywhere I go!! After your hike, make sure you remove all of your clothing and check for ticks- especially in warm, moist areas like armpits and the scalp. Before I bring the dogs in the RV, I set them up on the picnic table and go over them carefully, sometimes using a flashlight. Of course, the shorter your pet’s hair is, the easier identification will become. Learning how to properly remove a tick is a simple yet critical skill. Remove the tick with tweezers by grabbing the mouth part as close to the skin as possible and gently pulling it straight out. Do not break off the head. There is no other way to remove a tick. Do not try to burn it out with a match or drowned it with a soap like solution – it won’t work! If you are unable to remove a part of the tick, seek medical/veterinary guidance. Ideally, if you pull the ticket out, place it’s body in a small Ziploc bag and write on the bag the location and the date you collected the tick. If a adverse reaction were to occur in the next several weeks, hoping to identify line disease is ideal if you have the host species. By using slow and steady tension with tweezers at the base of the skin where the tick is attached, pull straight up on the tick with a steady tension, not a jerk that could dismember the tick. This method should remove the tick safely from your skin or your pet. Clean the area, apply antibacterial appointment and keep an eye on it for several days. Keep your dogs on a leash as off leashed pets disturb wildlife and often wonder into infested tick/rattlesnake territory. If my pets have taught me anything, it’s to pay attention to them. If I see them scratching, I immediately hunt out why/what they are itching. In doing so, I have found ticks and what not’s that I had overlooked in my initial inspection.
Jenn, Months ago you wrote about the many benefits of salmon oil and indeed, my vet agreed. Please share again the name of the one you use so I can order it up.
JENN: I’m happy to help! Alaska Naturals Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil is my go-to, daily add in. Start slowly to avoid a loose stool and feed with a meal once a day. You can find them at www.AlaskaNaturalsPet.com.