GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As temperatures rise, ticks make their way back to West Michigan.
In recent years, health experts have noticed more people finding ticks and tick bites.
Veterinarians say dogs and cats are equally at risk. They see more cases with dogs since cats tend to live indoors, but humans can still carry ticks inside and pass them to their pets.
So far this year, Michigan has recorded 4,408 tick cases in dogs on 184,362 dogs tested in total.
In 2021, there were 11,406 positive cases and 505,815 dogs tested, according to the Companion Animal Parasite Council.
CAPC is also expecting an increase in West Michigan this year, with Allegan, Kalamazoo, Van Buren, St. Joseph and Oceana counties as the areas more at risk for ticks. In addition, northern Michigan and Upper Peninsula are also high-risk areas.
Dr. Ryan Carpenter with Family Friends Veterinary Hospital told News 8 that warmer winters and animals migrating have both contributed to the higher tick population.
“Deer, rabbits, mice are bringing them further into the city, while before they were into the woods. We see deer living in neighborhoods that are part of the transmission,” said Carpenter. “We are learning recently that some of the migrations of birds are bringing ticks north as well, so we are seeing some tick population migrating from the south.”
Four types of ticks are more prevalent in Michigan. The black-legged tick, also known as a deer tick, the American dog tick, also known as the wood tick, the lone star tick, and the brown dog tick.
Ticks like warm places. Veterinarians advise checking your pet’s ears, eyes, armpits and around the collar.
If you see one, Dr. Holly Mincks with Eastown Veterinary Clinic says there is no need to panic. Instead, remove the tick and monitor your pet for swelling, redness, fever, and joint swelling. You can use tweezers, but there is also a tool you can buy at your local vet or over the counter.
“If you see a tick that is broad, you can remove it at home. I recommend getting one of these tick twisters or tick tornadoes. These are very easy to use. They have prongs at the end, and you can remove it scooping underneath the tick and twist it around and it removes all — the tick and all its parts,” said Mincks.
Both doctors recommend you reach out to your veterinarian to find the best preventive care.
If you like to hike with your dog or live in wooded areas or near lakes, you may want to consider vaccinating your pet for Lyme disease.
You can also do some work in your backyard to reduce the chance of the spread of ticks. For example, keep your grass cut low and keep bushes trimmed. There are also some topical lawn products that are animal-friendly that you can use in your backyard.
You can also check out The Tick app for information about what type of ticks you can see in your area.