Ticks are an external parasite that are a danger to people and pets because they can spread a number of serious diseases. Here, our vets explain what to look for and how to keep ticks away from your pets and your family.
What are ticks?
A tick is an external parasite that feeds on the blood of animal and humans. Ticks cannot fly or jump, but instead rely on hosts for transportation.
Wild animals are usually responsible for bringing ticks onto your property. Once on your property, pets can easily become hosts and can introduce ticks into your home.
Are ticks dangerous?
Ticks are a danger to people and pets because they can spread a number of serious diseases. Their saliva contains germs and bacteria that can be transmitted to people, such as Lyme disease.
What do Ticks look like?
There are numerous species of ticks that live across the United States. Some of the most commonly found species include the brown dog tick, the lone star tick, and the American dog tick.
The brown dog tick is most likely to inhabit warm environments. They are a reddish brown color and are approximately 1/8 of an inch in length if they haven't fed, and up to a 1/2 inch in length if they have fed.
The American dog tick is most active in the spring, summer and fall. They are reddish brown in color with white or yellow markings. Males are about 1/8 of an inch in length and females are a bit larger and can grow up to a ½ inch in length when fully engorged. They live in parks, along wooded paths, and in farm pastures.
The lone star tick is about 1/8 of an inch in length and brown in color; the females have a white spot in the middle of their backs. These ticks are most active from April through July.
How do I check my pet for ticks?
Be sure to carefully check your dog for ticks even after short walks through grass and brush. Look between the toes, inside the ears, between the legs, and around the neck, deep in the fur.
How do I get rid of or prevent ticks?
There are many different methods for getting rid of and preventing ticks on a dog or small pet. Your vet can help you find the right option for you. Options include oral medications, spot treatments, tick collars, and even bathing your pet with a shampoo that contains medicated ingredients to kill ticks on contact.
Keeping your lawn trimmed will also help reduce ticks in your yard. If there are fewer areas for ticks to live and breed, there will be fewer of them around. It's also a good idea to limit the amount of time your pet spends outside during the height of tick season.