Ticks are a danger to both people and pets because they can spread a variety of serious diseases. Today our vets in Louisa discuss the ways ticks thrive, the signs of ticks you should be aware of, and how to keep your pets and family away from ticks.
What are ticks?
Ticks are external parasites that feed on the blood of both animals and people. They can't fly or jump and so they need hosts (generally, wild animals are responsible for carrying ticks onto your property) for getting around. When they are on your property, pets often become their hosts and the parasites are carried into your home.
Are ticks dangerous?
Because ticks spread various diseases that are usually serious, they are dangerous to both humans and pets. People can get serious conditions such as Lyme disease when the tick's saliva (which contains germs and bacteria) makes its way into the bloodstream.
What do Louisa ticks look like?
The black-legged tick is also known as the deer tick. It is among the most common tick species found in Louisa and has the reputation of being the species most responsible for transmitting Lyme disease in our state. It's joined by the lone star tick, American dog tick, gulf coast tick, and brown dog tick.
The black-legged tick is usually seen in wooded, brushy areas. 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 to check your pet for ticks
Always check your dog carefully, even after a short walk through bush and grass. Remember to look deep within your pet's fur, behind and inside the ears, between the legs, around the neck, and between their toes.
How to get rid of or prevent ticks
You can use a handful of different methods for getting rid of and preventing ticks on small pets and dogs. Some of the options available 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. Speak with your vet to determine the right option for you and your pet.
To help keep ticks out of your yard, 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 might also want to limit the amount of time your pet spends outside.