Sorry to sound like Debbie Downer but the downside to enjoying our beautiful outdoor parks, trails and gardens is that we have to check for ticks.  It's officially tick season in New Jersey.  I was reminded of that earlier when I noticed a tick in my hair.  My dog gets her monthly flea and tick treatment but we humans aren't afforded such protection.  So consider this a friendly reminder to look after yourself, and your human and canine family members.

After being outdoors, check your body and scalp for ticks.  Check your dogs even if they get their monthly dose of flea and tick prevention.  Is your dog shaking her head a lot?  It could be because a tick might be inside her ear.  Is he chewing on his foot?  Ticks like to hide between toes.

If you find a tick on your pet, you can soak a cotton swab with mineral oil or liquid soap, hold it against the tick for 15-30 seconds until it loosens its grip, then use tweezers or a tick removal tool (available at pet stores).

The State Health Department has a good brochure about ticks and tick-borne illnesses.  You can read it here:  http://www.state.nj.us/health/cd/izdp/documents/tbd_brochure.pdf

Have you encountered ticks since the weather warmed up?  What's your favorite tick removal trick?