Billings residents have reported finding ticks on their pets as early as March of 2021, with many coming from popular dog-walking areas like Norm's Island.
Dr. Edie Best of Billings Animal Family Hospital said recently that ticks aren’t necessarily worse this year, but they are out.
“I have already picked ticks off of my own dogs, so I know they are out and about,” said Best.
Best said that it is easiest to spot and remove the pesky bugs right after hiking or walking. She recommends feeling over pets' bodies to check for any bumps and shaking out their fur thoroughly. It is also a good idea to brush them.
“You can sometimes find a lot of them that are just crawling on the surface. Ticks are super smart. They tend to like places where there is not a lot of hair,” said Best.
These areas can include the tip of a dog’s ears, underarms, groin and eyelids. She said to check these areas over the next couple of days after an adventure.
One Billings dog walker, Cerry Copps, was at Norms Island Tuesday afternoon and said she found 10 ticks on her dogs last year after letting them play in the brush. Copps had to pick off the ticks with a pair of tweezers and later give the dogs a bath with tick shampoo.
“When the river is this high, I don’t let them off leash. That helps a lot,” said Copps.
Ricardo Bachcater, another Billings resident, said he started giving his dog preventative tick medication when she was six months old.
“She takes Interceptor, one pill a month. I do that all year round,” said Bachcater.
According to Dr. Best, ticks that have attached to your pet will usually be found before they become a real problem.
“They get very engorged and they can literally become the size of a plump raisin. Often with long hair dogs…you might just be running your hand over the dog, and you will think that it is a bump or a wart,” said Best.
She said ticks are not only prevalent in wet areas like Norm's Island but also in drier areas of Billings.
“Be on the lookout this time of year and into the hot summer months,” said Best.
Best said if you do notice that your dog is behaving strangely, check for ticks and call your vet. She said there is a rare and odd disease called tick paralysis. Dogs will become seemingly paralyzed overnight.
“They literally can not get up and walk, and it is the saliva from the tick,” said Best.
She said the cure is to remove the tick, then recovery will start.