Expert: Dog ticks on the rise, deer ticks more dangerous

SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) – As Rhode Island families gear up for the summer months, tick expert Thomas Mather recommends extra protection.

Mather said dog tick populations are higher than normal this summer, while deer tick populations are about average.

According to Mather, dog ticks are much larger and easier to spot than deer ticks and they are also much less likely to get you sick.

In fact, only about one in 200 dog ticks carry harmful germs, Mather said. For deer ticks, that number is closer to one in four.

“Of these nymph-stage deer ticks, one in three or one in four is carrying some germ that can make you sick, including Lyme disease bacteria,” Mather said.

Mather said the increased dog tick presence can be blamed on rainy weather and larger animal populations.

“There have been a lot of raccoons around,” Mather said. “Raccoons serve as the natural host for these American dog ticks.”

To protect against ticks, Mather recommends spraying a certain type of repellent on your clothes, particularly because it can keep working for several wash cycles.

“The best tick repellent is permethrin, and you spray that on your clothes before you wear them, or your shoes,” he said.