Keeping your pets safe this tick season

Now that summer is just around the corner, experts are warning ticks will be coming back in full force in what one called a "tick explosion."

Boston 25 News has looked into the surge in ticks, what areas are hit the hardest, what you can do if you find one and what homeowners can do to protect themselves.

But what about protecting your pets?

The height of tick season is from April to September and Massachusetts is a high-risk state because of the many diseases that ticks here carry.

Just like you protect yourself, you should be protecting your pets.

New dog owner Kristen Lawrie discovered just how much of a tick magnet pets are the first time she took Cota outside

"He had like two ticks on him that I found. Now, pretty much brush him and look for ticks," said Lawrie.

Pets with longer hair or thick fur may be particularly vulnerable because it is easier for the pesky parasites to latch on to them.

Ticks can be dangerous because of the sicknesses they carry, including Lyme disease and anaplasmosis.

Dr. Susan O'Bell, director of general medicine at Angell Animal Medical Center in Jamaica Plain, says she's already getting emails and calls from people worried about ticks.

Most tick-borne illnesses initially cause flu-like symptoms in pets; joint pain, fever, loss of appetite and fatigue.

"Trying to look for that silver lining is that almost all tick-borne diseases seem to respond to antibiotic treatment, so if we recognize those symptoms and get them in for some diagnostics and treatment, they usually get better very quickly," said O'Bell.

O'Bell recommends yearly screenings, the use of a veterinary approved tick control product year-round, and the Lyme disease vaccination for dogs that meet the criteria for it.

She says pets should also be checked for ticks after spending any time outdoors.

"Trying to get the ticks off of them is really hard because they are very excited and they don't want you touching them," said Norwood resident Deb Stevens.

No, with some pets it's not easy, but the quicker a tick is removed, the less likely it is to transmit disease.

When removing a tick from a pet or a person, it's best to use tweezers. Grab as close as you can to the base of the tick and roll it backwards.

Ticks like to burrow deep into skin, so you want to be sure all of the tick is removed.