Ticks are responsible for spreading a wide array of serious diseases, making them a threat to the health of both pets and people. In this blog, our Monroe vets discuss the ways ticks thrive, including the signs you need to watch out for and how you can protect your pets and family from these pesky external parasites.
What are ticks?
Ticks are external parasites that feast on human and animal blood. Ticks are unable to jump or fly or jump, so they rely on hosts (often, it's wild animals that bring ticks onto your property) for transportation. When ticks enter your property, your pets usually become their hosts and bring these parasites into your home.
What makes ticks dangerous?
Because ticks a responsible for spreading a range of serious diseases, they are dangerous to both humans and pets. People can get serious illnesses such as Lyme disease when the tick's saliva (that contains germs and bacteria) enters the bloodstream.
What do Monroe ticks look like?
The black-legged tick (also called the deer tick) is one of the most common tick species spotted in the Monroe area and is recognized as being the species most responsible for spreading Lyme disease in our state. It's joined by the lone star tick, American dog tick, groundhog tick, and brown dog tick.
The black-legged tick is found in wooded, bushy areas and both males and females have flat, oval bodies. While female deer ticks' bodies are about 1/8" in size and orangish-brown (with a reddish-brown colored abdomen that becomes darker after feeding on a host), male deer ticks are roughly 1/16" and reddish-brown overall. They are longer than they are wide, and have sharply pointed, toothed mouthparts you can see clearly from above. Though tick exposure may occur year-round, they are most active during warmer months (April to September).
How can I check my cat or dog for ticks?
Even after taking short walks through bush and grass, check your pet carefully for ticks. Remember to look deep within your pet's fur, behind and inside the ears, between the legs, around the neck, and between the toes.
How can I prevent or get rid of ticks?
There are various different methods you can use to get rid of and prevent ticks on small pets and dogs. Your options include spot-on treatments, oral medications, tick collars, or even using a shampoo containing medicated ingredients to bathe your pet and kill ticks on contact. Talk to your veterinarian to determine which options are best for you and your pet.
To help keep ticks away from your yard, it's a good idea to keep your lawn well-trimmed. This will give ticks fewer areas to live and breed, reducing the risk of ticks being around. At the height of tick season, you'll also want to limit the amount of time your pet spends outside.