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Mild winter's bringing out ticks.

Byline: Scott Maben The Register-Guard

The bloodsucking mites are back.

No, not the IRS. We're talking ticks, and local veterinarians are seeing them on pets a good month early - another consequence of a mild winter.

"It's the heat wave we're having. The early spring warmth is bringing them out," said Kate Crippen, a veterinary assistant at Delta Oaks Veterinary Clinic in Eugene.

"We're having the same situation with fleas. They're huge," Crippen said. "We haven't had a good, hard freeze for several years, and I think that's resulted in a little buildup in the environment."

Recent rainless days with temperatures reaching into the 50s and 60s have drawn more people - and their dogs - outdoors. The trails have been busy at Lane County's Howard Buford Recreation Area south of Springfield.

"People are just streaming up and down that hill. Everybody's smiling," said Tom LoCascio, site manager for Mount Pisgah Arboretum.

But the hill is alive with ticks, which prey on wildlife and also grab onto dogs pouncing through the brush.

"On the wildlife they can be real plentiful, and there's no doubt that the warmer weather has made them more plentiful," LoCascio said.

Ticks generally pester dogs and sometimes people in the spring and summer, but they seem to target deer through winter, he said.

"January tends to be a time when, for whatever reason, any animals that are sick or weak - there's not a lot of food out there, the weather is inclement - that's when they're going to succumb," he said. "When we find them, they're always covered with ticks."

With the warm weather, it's a good idea to resume flea and tick treatments for pets, Crippen said.

Tim Ramsey, a relief veterinarian at the Delta Oaks clinic on Wednesday, said several methods can be used to remove ticks embedded in a dog:

Light a match, blow it out and touch the hot tip to the exposed part of the tick, being careful not to burn your dog. When the tick's legs stop quivering, carefully grip its body with straight-edged tweezers and twist it out counterclockwise. It may take three full turns.

Some stores sell a tick-removal tool.

Use premethryn, a common flea treatment. Put some on a cotton swab and dab the tick.

Bring it to a vet to remove.

Whenever handling ticks, wear gloves and use rubbing alcohol as a cleanser. Ticks carry disease.
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Title Annotation:Animals; It's time to begin regular pet treatments because the pesky parasites - and fleas, too - are attacking animals
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Feb 3, 2005
Words:396
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