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First things first. Let me make myself perfectly clear. I really hate ticks – almost as much as I hate fleas, and I really really hate fleas.....Ticks are not just annoying creatures. They are evil, blood sucking tenacious, disgusting creepy parasites. Are you getting the picture?

Well, then, on to tick trivia...

  • There are over 825 species of ticks in the world. Now that's comforting news.

  • They have 8 legs and a hard, flat, shiny body.

  • The tick has 4 life stages: egg, larva, nymph and adult.

  • Females hop on your pal as he passes by and takes a “blood feast”.

  • She enlarges to what looks like a fat bean, falls off, and then lays 3000-5000 eggs that will hatch in 1-2 months – just peachy!

  • Males do not enlarge after eating.

  • Ticks are not classified as an insect, but are related to the spider family.

  • They thrive in high humidity above 90%.

  • These sly varmints can inject an anti-inflammatory anesthetic compound found in their saliva which makes it less likely to know that you have been bitten.

  • These nasty critters may live for 1-2 years and can lay dormant for over a year without a blood meal.

Tick Removal 101

There are several ways to remove ticks safely. First and foremost – if you plan to remove these disgusting hombres by hand, please wear gloves or use a tissue. Diseases can be transmitted to you through cracks in your skin. Using tweezers is a safer choice when dealing with just a few ticks. Pull slowly and gently. Do not crush or squeeze the tick, as it is capable of forcing or vomiting saliva into your pal which contains toxins. Swell, just swell!

After removing ticks, disinfect the area, then apply an antibiotic ointment to help prevent an infection. Remember to dispose of the ticks by putting them in a sealed jar or flushing them you-know-where.

In my book, dabbing on home remedies such as Vaseline, Crazy Glue, nail polish, or peanut butter, then waiting for the tick to suffocate is a big waste of time. Burning a tick while it is on your best friend is just plain crazy!

When dealing with large amounts of ticks, a safe insecticide dip would work faster. You could also use a fine toothed comb. I would follow up with a visit to your vet.

Always remember, they hide in the least likely places. Check ears, eyelids, under collars, and between toes. Tiny male ticks can also be found under engorged females. Due to the fact that these shady characters transmit several potentially deadly diseases such as Lymes, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tick paralysis, and also anemia, preventing tick bites from occurring is definitely the answer.

Many brands of tick sprays, collars, dips and spot-ons are available, but they do all come with possible health risks.

I prefer a more natural approach. I use:

  • Apple cider vinegar in my dogs' drinking water

  • Lavender shampoo as a bath

  • Skin-So-Soft spritz

  • Essential oils – almond, rose, or geranium

  • Daily garlic tablets

  • Diatomaceous earth sprinkled in kennels or directly on pets

And for now, my 99 cent glasses will be kept close at hand and with them I plan to look and look again. No tick will elude me. So, I'm hereby giving ticks notice. The “Do Not Enter” sign is up at Bella Vista Farms. No ticks on my dogs. Not on my watch!

Chic Miller Bella Vista Farms Animal Sanctuary 4301 Lower Gas Point Road Cottonwood, CA 96022


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