Protect your pet from ticks and Lyme disease

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Tick season is here, and if your pet spends any time in the grass or woods, you're likely to spot the blood-sucking creatures on your pet or yourself.

There are several tick-borne diseases, including Lyme disease, that can be serious for humans and animals. Researchers at Consumer Reports have some simple ways to help protect your pet.

If you find a tick, don’t panic, especially if it’s just crawling around and not attached. Not all ticks carry disease. And if a tick is embedded for less than 24 hours, it greatly reduces the chance of your pet getting a tick-borne disease like Lyme. So always remove any ticks immediately.

While a popular method of removing embedded ticks is to use pointed tweezers, many vets say an actual tick remover is the better tool.

With tweezers, you risk the chance of removing the body of the tick and leaving the tick's head embedded. That continues the risk of disease and infection. A tick removal tool is better for removing the entire tick. Keep an eye on your pet for suspicious symptoms.

It’s also important to use an oral or a topical anti-tick medication for your pet’s best protection. But be sure to check with your vet before you use any of these treatments.

Your yard is the next battleground. Keep the grass low and clear out leaf piles to deprive ticks of hiding places. Those steps are low tech and nontoxic.

You can also consider having boxes containing pesticide-laced cotton installed on your lawn. The pesticide kills the ticks after tick hosts like chipmunks or mice crawl into them and take the cotton for their nests. But the pesticide doesn’t hurt the animals.

Bait boxes are another type of tick-prevention measure to install on your lawn. But you’ll need to check with a licensed pest-control professional to see what type of anti-tick technology is permitted in your community.

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