Something we all want to avoid while hiking the trails along Abalone Bay is the Sea Ranch ticks. This is especially true for our 4-legged guests. Hiking the meandering dirt trails at Sea Ranch is a favorite activity we love to share with our dogs. Besides being a plain nuisance, the adult black-legged ticks may carry Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme Disease.
Learn how to enjoy hiking the Sea Ranch trails – both woodland and coastal-while keeping the Sea Ranch ticks off you, your pet, and out of Abalone Bay.
You’ll find more resources listed at the end of this post.
Deer, and Whales, and Sea Ranch TICKS, Oh My!
With over 50 miles of coastal and wooded trails, there’s plenty of scents and sights both you and your pet can enjoy. There are, of course, the deer feeding in the yard, the whales spouting off in the distance. But not as obvious are the ticks that can be picked up while on a hike.
To help you both stay tick-free we’ve compiled tips from Tickbites.net and TickEncounter.org you’ll need to know before you set off on your walk.
1: Dress for tick-free success
Dress in light-colored clothing. Before you set off on your trek be sure you dress in light-colored clothing. This way you’ll have better luck in discovering any hitch-hiking Sea Ranch ticks on your return.
Wear long pants with sneakers or hiking boots. Next, tuck your pant legs deep into your socks. And as your mom always told you, keep your shirt tucked into your waistband. In other areas where ticks are abundant, you might even want to wrap some duct tape around your ankles, over the top of your socks. Who knows you may start a new fashion trend that could also save you from great harm.
Be sure to have extra duct tape to use on your pet when you return home.
Keep your long hair tied up or braided. Groom your pet before entering the home. When venturing into areas where ticks are apt to be found, be sure both you and your pet are well-groomed. It may take a while for a tick to latch if there is a lot of hair or fur to travel through. Therefore it is important to prevent loose flowing hair in the fields and to comb both of you before you enter the home. Otherwise, the tick may fall off and attack other family members.
This is where that extra duct tape comes in handy. Loose ticks will be picked up as you run a long strip of tape over your pet.
Use a short leash with your pet: Don’t forget to dress your pet on a short leash. A leash no more than six feet long will help you to keep your dog safely on the trail paths.
2: Use Tick Repellent for Clothing and Your Pet
Spray your clothing, use veterinarian-approved flea and tick repellent for your pet. For you, a product that has 20% DEET or higher should be carefully applied by hand to your face, neck, and ears – you don’t want DEET in your eyes or mouth! DEET products are not considered a threat to their health. When applying DEET to young children by adults take care you do not apply it to hands or near eyes and mouth per EPA. Reapplications may be needed for several hours.
Always consult with your vet for insecticides that are safe for your dog. He will help you decide if once-a-month topical insecticides, flea and tick control sprays, powders, and/or possibly a Lyme vaccine is right for your pet’s protection against ticks at Sea Ranch.
Use bug repellent clothing, hiking boots, tents, camp chairs, or apply Permethrin to all your gear. Permethrin products should never be used on the skin. Permethrin is extremely toxic to ticks. In fact, it’s over 2, 250 times more deadly. Therefore, use just a little to provide great protection safely. Even with plenty of washings, Permethrin keeps on effectively killing ticks. Permethrin is sold under other names including Permanone and Duranon.
3: Stay on the trail and keep your dog on a leash.
Ticks, especially our ticks found in The Sea Ranch, are mostly found in bushy areas where they lay in wait for the passing host. However, new research suggests those heading to the shore also need to keep a careful eye out for disease-carrying ticks.
As you or your pet brush through the vegetation, the tick transfers to your bodies. Try not to let your pets stray to these areas and carry the bloodsuckers back home.
The trails at Sea Ranch are well maintained. Homeowners also mow the meadow grasses short. Keep your dog on a leash no longer than 6 feet. When you stay on the trails you’ll avoid ticks and leave a minimal impact on this wild and beautiful place we love.
Avoid tick-infested places. If you visit an area where ticks are known to be too abundant, your best bet is to simply avoid them.
4: Kill those little Buggers!
Strip all your clothes and immediately toss them into the dryer set on high heat. First strip down and immediately throw all clothing into the dryer set on high heat for 10 minutes. Electric dryers are not as hot as gas, so you might want to add 5 minutes if you have an electric dryer. This will ensure no ticks survive on your clothing. Otherwise, if left to linger in the hamper they may latch onto the next person walking by. Then wash them.
5: Do a Daily Tick Check
Be vigilant – do a daily tick check. Take a shower and wash your hair all the while searching all those places that ticks love to hide: in your hair, under your arms, between your legs, behind the knees, and even in your belly button.
The easiest way is to inspect yourself is to do it while sitting on the toilet. Just look down. It’s a lot easier to see many of those “below the belt” places where people commonly find nymphal and larval ticks than while leaning over or contorting to look in the mirror. And most people practice toilet-sitting at least once or twice a day.
Check your pets and keep your pets off the furniture. Don’t forget to check your pet too. Regular and thorough inspections even if it means you are only looking for a single tick will keep ticks off your pet and out of the house. Just one tick could be carrying eggs filled with vampire-like buggers ready to make you their first meal.
And give her a good bath as well! Sea Ranch ticks can easily drop off on carpets or furniture, where they will wait for a blood meal to come along. Before you use a strong pet shampoo designed for tick prevention, check with your vet and carefully follow instructions about its use.
Go through your pets’ fur on a constant basis; better still, consider regular shearing if your pet grows too much hair. It can be difficult to look for Sea Ranch ticks with so much hair in the way.
Abalone Bay provides towels for drying off your dog. You’ll find them in the garage in the box labeled dog and diver towels. Abalone Bay also provides a pet throw to use for when your pet insists on snuggling up with you on the sofa or in bed. We insist you use our throw or other furniture covers to assure your pet doesn’t leave an “unwelcoming gift” for our next guest.
How to Check for Sea Ranch Ticks- Video
Watch Jorge check our dog, Ana for our Sea Ranch ticks. This video was shot just after taking a short walk in the morning.
Why Worry about Ticks in Mendonoma?
Our Sea Ranch ticks never take a holiday unlike those of the Northeast. Because they are active year-round in California, it is possible to get Lyme Disease and other tick-borne diseases at any time of the year.
One of the most well-known tick-borne diseases, Lyme disease, was first described in North America in the 1970s in Lyme, Connecticut, the town for which it was then named. This disease has since been reported in many areas of the country, including most counties in California.
We don’t have specific information about people in Sonoma County or infected with Lyme disease or bitten by Sea Ranch ticks. However, the good news is the CDC shows that California’s rate of incidence has lowered significantly since 2010 when it reported 126 cases.
(Visit Companion Animal Parasite Council website to see specific data for your state and county for Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.)
Karen Miller, a patient advocate and a facilitator on the Tick-Borne Diseases Advisory Group, Lyme Aid in Santa Rosa points out some areas of Sonoma County have very high infection rates in ticks, especially at Annadel State Park in Santa Rosa.
Also considered a high-risk area is our coastal areas, which includes The Sea Ranch.
According to the Centers for Disease Control: “Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans, or EM rash.
If left untreated, the infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.”However, many people do not get an initial bull’s eye rash, leaving them confused about their many vague, shifting, and growing symptoms. Furthermore, Lyme Disease can persist in patients’ inflamed joints even after taking antibiotics.
Other Tick-Borne Diseases
Sonoma is endemic to 7 known tick-borne diseases. Common among dogs and cats are varieties of Ehrlichia and Anaplasma. Left undiscovered or untreated it can become fatal as in the case of our dog.
Recently Stanford University recently found a surprising level of Borrelia miyamotoi, a recently discovered human pathogen in the Bay Area and Sonoma County’s trails. The corkscrew-shaped bacteria produce Lyme disease-like symptoms.
Resources for Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases:
- Ticks Commonly Encountered In California
- Lyme Disease in California
- Frequently asked questions
- A lab in Palo Alto where you can send a tick to be tested for Lyme disease.
- Tick-borne Infections in California
- 10 Good Sense Tips to Protect Against Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases
- Learn more about keeping your pet at Abalone Bay