It is common for some unaware dog owners to stop their tick prevention medication during the colder months. This brings up the question, “Will a cold Ohio winter kill ticks?”

According to the Ohio Department of Health, cases of Lyme disease are reported in every month of the year with a gradual increase in the spring and peaking in the summer. In Ohio, Lyme disease is most commonly spread by the infected blacklegged tick. Symptoms generally occur anywhere from 3 to 30 days from a tick bite.

Lyme Disease in Ohio in Humans has been documented from age one to 90 years. The median age someone is infected is 33 years.

Ticks are quickly migrating West. Our neighboring state of Pennsylvania led the nation in 2016 with more than 12,000 confirmed cases of Lyme disease, which is increasing every year. Ticks are getting worse and worse each year and a new very dangerous variety, the Asian long-horned tick, has been reported in Kentucky and Pennsylvania.

So back to the question – will a cold Ohio winter kill ticks?  Here is the answer.

Sort of. According to studies by the CDC, 20% of ticks die off during sustained cold. A lab study showed that when ticks were put in freezers, some ticks die when exposed to sustained cold of -2 to 14 degrees Fahrenheit. But not all ticks die.  And here is the catch. A freezer is not the same as being outside. Ticks outdoors will find nooks and crannies and often find spots where the temperature is higher than the environmental temperature. Deep soils, leaf litter, and a blanket of snow offer insulation from wildly fluctuating air temperatures. As temperatures fall, ticks naturally burrow deeper to escape the cold. Deep soils and leaf litter can be substantially warmer.

It is also believed that ticks have special adaptations that help them resist the cold. According the CDC, “scientists also hypothesize that ticks can manufacture a cryoprotectant,essentially natural antifreeze, which circulates in their cells.”

We believe that the cold may decrease tick populations but not enough to make it safe for us or our pets. Here in Granville, we are seeing dogs test positive for Lyme disease throughout the year including the winter.

Our recommendation is: Keep your pets on year- roundtick prevention! Ticks not only spread Lyme disease but also other diseases such as Ehrlichia and Anaplasmosis.  In fact, of the dog that are testing positive for a tick-borne disease in our Granville practice, 70% are testing positive for Lyme, 15% test positive for Ehrlichia and another 15% test positive for Anaplasmosis.  

And the ticks are very small. See a photo of the ticks we are seeing. 

Call us or stop by to learn more about your tick prevention medications.

Learn about Myths about Ticks.