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Tick Mythbusters: Cracking the Case on Fact vs. Fiction

Tick Mythbusters: Cracking the Case on Fact vs. Fiction

This post is brought to you through the financial support of Merial, the maker of FRONTLINE®Plus Brand Products. The views expressed herein are the views of the author and not Merial. Ask your veterinarian about the flea and tick protection of FRONTLINE Plus. Click here to download a coupon.

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The dreaded tick! Even the bravest human can be a bit paranoid about them. Maybe that’s why they have a bit of a mystique surrounding them. One quick search on the internet for ticks will yield dozens of old wives’ tales about how ticks operate and how to kill them. These myths range from the weird to the wacky, and they hardly ever enter the realm of truth.

We’ve rounded up some of these tall tales and put them to the test.

1. You can remove a tick with perfume or nail polish: False

“I prefer my parasites to be as beautiful as I am!”

Truth: These tactics will make the tick look pretty and smell better, but they won’t help your cause.

2. Vaseline causes a tick to suffocate: False

“Let’s be real here.”

Truth: Let’s pretend for a moment that this actually worked. Why would you want to try it? The longer a tick remains on your pet’s body, the more likely she is to contract a tick-borne disease. By the time the tick fell off, she could very well have contracted an illness.

3. Putting a flame as close to the tick as possible will cause it to fall off: False

“Excuse me? You want to put what where?”

How about we go with no. Yeah, let’s go with no, because potentially setting a part of your body on fire is never a good idea.

Repeat after me: Fire bad.

Truth: Burning a tick may kill it, but it can also cause it to vomit into the bite site, which you definitely do not want.

4. Ticks can’t survive in water: False

“If only prevention was this fun!” #ButItsNot

Truth: A nice long swim in a pool won’t cure you of an eight-legged hitchhiker. Deer ticks can survive in water for 2-3 days.

5. A tick is a tiny spider: Close! But not exactly.

“Do you think an octopus is a spider? I didn’t think so.”

Truth: Ticks are arachnids. Spiders are arachnids. In simple terms, these two are cousins.

6. Ticks don’t survive the winter: False

“Wait. You mean they can still get me?” #TakeMeInsideNowPlease

Truth: They certainly don’t like the cold, but they still can be out there. dun… dun… DUN…

7. You only need to treat your pets for ticks during the summer: False

“We need to have a talk about how attentive you are to my needs.”

Truth: See the above myth for proof. Ticks may not be out in full force in the winter, but even in freezing temps, some of these critters may find their way to your pup. You should treat your dog year round for ticks using a product like FRONTLINE® Plus.

8. Ticks can survive without their bodies: False

“Oh yes, tell me again how they can defy the laws of biology.”

Truth: Newsflash: Ticks are not immortal. Hey, even movie vampires cannot survive beheading. (Ok, cockroaches can, but they’re just weird.)

Many people believe that a tick’s mouthparts (ew, I know) will continue to spread disease even if it’s been detached from its body. Thankfully, this isn’t true. Once the tick body is removed and the tick is dead, the mouthpart will fall off on its own.

9. Ticks live in trees: False

“Is no place safe!!??? Oh, ok. Good. Don’t scare me like that again.”

Truth: Ticks can climb, but they usually reserve these excursions to climbing up blades of grass and your body or your pet’s body.

10. Ticks explode when they’ve had too much blood: False

“Ew. Thanks for that mental image, human.”

Truth: Sorry, no exploding ticks. Once they’re stuffed on blood, adult females fall off, lay eggs, and die.

Ok, so what do you do if you or your dog has a tick?

“Why didn’t you get the tick? I don’t want this tick! WHY ME!!??”

All you need are some tweezers, a plastic bag or a some type of container and probably a tissue or a paper towel.

– Take the tweezers and grab the tick as close to its head as possible. Do not use your fingers.

– Using a steady hand, pull the tick straight out of the skin. Be careful not to crush the tick.

– Clean the area with soap and water. Then, wash your hands.

– Save the tick in a bag, jar or other container. You may need to show it to your veterinarian.

– Call your veterinarian if the mouthparts are still embedded in the skin. It is important to take the part of the tick that you removed with you to the appointment.

Routinely help protect your dog or cat with monthly flea and tick control like FRONTLINE® Plus brand products.

This post is brought to you through the financial support of Merial, the maker of FRONTLINE®Plus Brand Products. The views expressed herein are the views of the author and not Merial. Ask your veterinarian about the flea and tick protection of FRONTLINE Plus. Click here to download a coupon.

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®FRONTLINE is a registered trademark of Merial. FL15BKB-6R (9/15)

Featured image via @snoopingsara.

Sources: A Little Campy, NIH, Prevention, TickEncounter
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