Winter warm-up is wake-up call for ticks

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – An unseasonable warm-up in January has pet owners and animal medical experts on alert for ticks.

“Personally, myself, I pull the most ticks off of my cat in January,” said Bobbie Ditzler, a technician at Rossmoyne Animal Emergency & Trauma Center. “It’s not unusual for ticks to be very active even on very, very cold days.”

When temperatures reached into the 50’s on Wednesday, Ditzler says ticks that have slowed down their activity during colder weather were even more likely to seek a blood meal on a passing person or pet.

While the majority of people encounter ticks during warmer seasons, when people and pets are more active themselves, most ticks found in Pennsylvania will continue to feed year-round as long as the temperature remains above freezing.

If a moderately active tick detects the warm body of a passing wild animal or domestic pet, Ditzler says it will likely make an attempt to attach itself to the animal in an attempt to sustain itself for the season.

In the latter scenario, a pet entering a home or sharing a bed with a human can easily pass the tick on, which can bite and potentially spread Lyme disease.

Ditzler recommends pet owners regularly check their animals for ticks and budget enough money to purchase year-round tick prevention products for their dogs and cats.

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