PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Ticks were a big problem over the summer especially in Western Pennsylvania, but if you thought the cold weather killed them off — think again.
Turns out, the problem isn’t going away. The snow actually helps insulate ticks when they’re in the ground, keeping them alive even in subzero temperatures. Once temperatures warm up, that’s when they emerge and latch on to our pets.
Gina Benca makes sure her Australian Shepherd, Roxy, is living her best life and part of that is keeping her clear of ticks.
“We do Simparica, which is a pill every month, which is really easy,” said Benca.
Simparica is a flea and tick preventative a lot of vets recommend.
“Unfortunately, Western Pennsylvania is now number one in Lyme Disease and rabies, unfortunately,” said veterinarian Dr. Mike Hutchinson, with Animal General.
Just because it’s winter, that doesn’t mean our furry friends are protected from the bad guy.
“Once we get one day above 32 degrees, they come up and they’re hungry so they latch on to get a blood meal,” said Dr. Hutchinson. “If we were in a tundra and didn’t get snow, we would kill tons of ticks during the winter with this cold weather.”
This is something that’s deceiving to a lot of pet owners.
“I had no idea. I thought once the cold came in I thought they would just go away,” said pet owner Alexandra Fontana.
This is why Dr. Hutchinson said taking those preventative steps is all you really can do.
“If you do both, you’re doing the best blanket prevention for preventing Lyme Disease in our dogs,” said Dr. Hutchinson.
However keep he said there is something to keep in mind.
“It’s not 100 percent. Nothing is,” said Dr. Hutchinson.
“All my dogs are on Advantix II, so I really don’t have any issues, but I check them all the time when they come in,” said Fontana.
“I do feel that people should be aware because you’re still sending your dog outside and the dog is coming back into your house. It could jump onto me or a young kid,” said Benca.
If your pet is limping, has swollen joints or fever, it could be a sign that he or she has Lyme Disease. Get your dog or cat to the vet right away to get checked out.