Ticks can be prevalent, even in the winter - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Ticks can be prevalent, even in the winter

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Experts warmed pet owners to check their dogs for ticks, even during the winter. (WFSB photo) Experts warmed pet owners to check their dogs for ticks, even during the winter. (WFSB photo)
(WFSB) -

It may still be winter, but pet owners should still be concerned about ticks, according to experts.

Veterinarians said that mild weather like what Connecticut has been experiencing over the past week, is making a tick problem more prevalent.

Lacy, a 12-year-old Patterdale terrier is a tick magnet, according to her owner, Peter Griswold.

Griswold, who lives in Rocky Hill, said he checks Lacy every day.

"When it’s nice out, you never know when a tick may climb on," he said.

Dr. Edyta Hrynkiewicz blamed the mild weather.

"Even in the winter season, we've seen several animals with ticks and diagnosing them with Lyme disease," Hrynkiewicz said.

Late last week, temperatures hit 70 degrees with virtually no snow to keep them down.

Scientists at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station said deer ticks are very active this time of year. The ones in the winter are typically the insects that have not found hosts from their peak season in the fall.

"They do not hibernate and can be active in the winter if the temperatures get to around 40 [degrees] and there is no snow cover to keep them down," said Kirby C. Stafford III, chief entomologist. "There is a second peak in the spring as temperatures warm up."

The station received as many as 19 adult ticks in one day, Stafford said.

"Interestingly, I tend to get more inquiries about the ticks in the spring although more adult ticks are present in the fall," he said. "Perhaps 40-50 degrees is perceived as chilly in the fall and warm in the spring by people, hence greater outdoor activity and exposure to ticks."

Stafford warned that pets that live in a woodsy area or are taken on hikes are even more at risk for tick-borne diseases.

Griswold said he doesn't try that. In fact, he said after last season, he avoids tall grass and wooded areas.

Vets said getting dogs preventative tick and flea medicine is vital. However, the pets should also be checked every day, no matter the season.

Even if pet owners haven't seen their animal with a tick problem this season, experts said it's a good time to get their blood work done just to make sure they're clear.

"An hour in a hot dryer will kill any ticks on the clothes, but they will survive a wash," Stafford said.

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