2018-05-24 / Life in Leelanau

Ticked Off: Tips and tricks for beating ticks

By Grant McPherson
Of the Enterprise Staff


RACHEL HAGGERTY, 21, and her dog Brandy stop on the trail to drink some water. The two went up to the top of the hill to check out the view. RACHEL HAGGERTY, 21, and her dog Brandy stop on the trail to drink some water. The two went up to the top of the hill to check out the view. Tick control has become a full-time job for Eric Shawbitz.

Shawbitz owns a 10-month-old border collie and checks for ticks daily.

“When your best friend is with you every day, you try to be ready,” Shawbitz said. “My dog, Sanja, had three in one week on her.”

It’s once again that time of the year where the little bugs can become a big problem in Michigan, and Leelanau County is no exception.

Kerry Kelly can attest.

“First thing is to always be careful when you’re walking throughout the trails,” said Kelly, the head of Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes. “Some things I think you should do could be something as simple as wearing light colors to make it easier to find them. You should also do a body check when you are done walking on the trails to make sure you didn’t bring along any ticks.”

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has a list of the five most common ticks found in the state. The list covers the distribution of certain ticks, where they are most likely to be found, some key facts you should know about ticks and the diseases they carry.

Lyme disease, the most common tick-borne disease in Michigan, can affect both humans and dogs.

So if you think you have a tick, visit the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department office in Lake Leelanau.

“If someone finds a tick, we can help them identify what kind of tick it is,” said the health department medical director, Dr. Joshua Meyerson. “Lyme disease is very prevalent in our area, so always make sure to stay on the trails.”

Identifying the tick can be a big lift, as experts will be able to help you find the correct treatment.

ERIC SHAWBITZ keeps a careful watch on his 10-month-old border collie puppy, Sanja. It’s a good thing as he found three ticks on her in the past week.ERIC SHAWBITZ keeps a careful watch on his 10-month-old border collie puppy, Sanja. It’s a good thing as he found three ticks on her in the past week.
And the more everyone knows, the easier it will be to be able to prevent anything major from happening.

“A way to keep the ticks away from your home is to cut the grass and keep the yard clean,” Meyerson said.

The shorter the grass, the harder it is for ticks to travel.

Another trick is to wear longer pants and tuck the pant legs in your socks so no ticks can make it to your skin.

Shawbitz, the owner of Peninsula Tree and Stone, LLC of Suttons Bay, knows this and makes sure to wear the proper attire.

“I’m not too concerned,” he said. “I wear long socks and jeans.”

Another method, Kelly said, is spraying clothes with permethrin, an anti-parasite spray that can even treat head lice and scabies.

“If you stay in the park, on the formal trails, you won’t very often encounter any ticks,” Kelly said. “If you stay on the wider trails in Sleeping Bear Dunes, you can keep the risk down even lower.”

Dr. Kathryn Cochran of the Suttons Bay Animal Hospital said the number of ticks in the area seems to have gone up in the last five to 10 years.

So what happens if your dog gets the itch?

“We will typically recommend heartworm and tick and flea pills for dogs,” Cochran said. “Our medications are mostly oral, or sometimes a medicine they can put by the shoulder blades.”

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