Ticks, Snakes and Living Here

Ticks are part of living in the Kittitas Valley. Now, I grew up on the Idaho-Nevada line so checking for ticks after coming in from the sagebrush was a normal part of life. For many people they are, well, icky. The most common tick around here is the Brown Dog Tick with the occasional Deer Tick and the dreaded and irritating Spinose Ear Tick. Fortunately for most dogs, and occasional cats, they are mainly just irritating. In the worst cases, they can be the carriers or causes of dangerous diseases.

For the occasional tick, removal is all that is necessary. If the tick is attached, it should be grasped near the skin, not by its body, with a pair of fine pointed tweezers and firmly and steadily pulled straight away from the skin surface. You will often see a piece of dried skin grasped in its teeny weeny little jaws. Drop it in a little container of rubbing alcohol (dont’ waste the good stuff). Don’t drop it down the drain. IT WILL KEEP COMING BACK BIGGER AND BIGGER! Not really, I saw that in an old Twilight Zone episode. If I was more tech savvy I could make a direct link to a couple of tick removal pages from here. Hopefully, I can edit it in later.

ASPCA tick removal page www/aspca/pet-care-tips/how-to-remove-a-tick-from-your-pet.aspx

YouTube video www.youtube.com/watch?v=0witB38

Ticks can be prevented with sprays, collars and spot-on flea and tick treatments with varying success.

Tick paralysis can occur from a single attached tick in a sensitive dog or from a large number. The dog starts showing some weakness or lack of balance and progresses to being unable to get up. Fortunately, removing the attached tick usually results in full recovery.

Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and other fever and arthritis-causing diseases have occurred in central Washington but are uncommon. Recent studies by the state have revealed a low incidence of ticks carrying these various diseases.


We do have a local rattlesnake, the Northern Pacific Rattlesnake. It is not real aggressive but will bite if surprised or feels threatened. Fortunately, it’s venom is not too powerful (makes you feel better already) but it can still do some damage. We advise carrying Benadryl tablets when taking dogs in snake country. If a dog is bitten give it one tablet for each 25 lbs of body weight (just get close– 25 lb dog gets one tablet, 40-50 lb gets 2 tablets, etc.) and get it to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Antihistamines, antibiotics and anti-inflammatories work fine most of the time (which is good because antivenin is upwards of $800!). Bites can be life-threatening but fortunately seldom are. For some dogs, the potential for getting bit is high enough for them to get rattlesnake vaccine (no, this does not keep rattlesnakes away). This reduces the damage caused by venom though I would still use antibiotics for a bite.