BLACKFOOTâ€”Local veterinarians are reporting that it's a bad year for ticks in East Idaho and while the little bloodsuckers will latch onto just about anything, dogs seem to be their main victim of choice, followed by humans.
Laddie Curran, who purchased a home on Riverton Road three years ago, said he was shocked when just in the past couple of weeks he found two ticks on himself and a total of seven between his two dogs. Two of the ticks on his dogs had already filled up with blood.
"Living in an urban area, ticks have been the furthest thing from my mind," he said. "My dogs and I have stuck close to home. We haven't gone anywhere or been in the mountains or sagebrush. The only thing I have done differently has been bringing in some bark for my flower beds."
Melissa Sutton, who lives in the Groveland area, said she has found up to 60 ticks on her Great Dane.
Curran said he called Blackfoot's Animal Health Clinic and staff confirmed that "ticks are rampant this year and are hitting dogs hard."
"Even some of the dog owners who came to the [Blackfoot AKC] dog show at the [EISF] fairgrounds in June reported finding ticks on their dogs," he said.
Veterinarian Paul Syverson of the Animal Health Clinic in Blackfoot said many factors can affect the tick population. The weather can play a role and ticks can also hitch a ride on migratory birds, rodents, coyotes, deer and other wildlife.
Syverson recommends that dog owners check themselves and their dogs after spending time in the outdoors. Throwing clothes in a hot dryer after being outside will also kill any ticks on clothing.
Syverson said a tick has to stay embedded in the skin for at least 24 hours to transmit diseases (such as Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever) and that humans are more susceptible to the diseases than animals.
"A tick will usually fall off after they've had their blood meals," he said. "The best way to remove a tick is with tweezers. Get as close to the skin as possible and extract the head."
Syverson said over the counter tick collars and spray repellants are effective in keeping ticks off dogs.
For more information on ticks go to www.stopticks.org/prevention