Ticks are responsible for spreading a handful of serious diseases, this makes them dangerous to pets and humans. Today, our vets in Lancaster discuss the ways these external parasites flourish, including the signs you need to watch out for, and how you can protect your pets and family from ticks.
Ticks are external parasites that consume the blood of both people and animals to survive. They are unable to fly or jump, so they need hosts (most of the time, it's wild animals that bring ticks to your yard) to get around. After they are on your property, pets often become their hosts and bring the ticks into your home.
Why Ticks are Dangerous
Because ticks are responsible for transmitting a range of serious diseases, they are dangerous to the health of humans and pets. People can get severe illnesses including Lyme disease when the tick's saliva—which contains bacteria and germs—enters the bloodstream.
How to Recognize Ticks in Lancaster
The black-legged tick (also known as the deer tick) is one of the most common tick species found in Lancaster and has the dubious distinction as being the species responsible for most cases of 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, brushy 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).
Checking Your Pet for Ticks
Even after a short walk through bush and grass, check your dog carefully for ticks. Be sure to check deep within your pet's fur, behind and inside the ears, between the legs, around the neck, and between the toes.
Getting Rid of and Preventing Ticks
There are various ways you can get rid of and prevent ticks on small pets including cats and dogs. Some of the options available to you include tick collars, oral medications, spot-on treatments, as well as shampoos that contain medicated ingredients to bathe your pet in and kill ticks on contact. Talk to your veterinarian, they will be able to tell you the best option for you and your furry companion.
To help keep ticks out of your yard, keep your lawn well-trimmed. This gives ticks fewer places to live and breed, lowering the risk of ticks being around. When tick season is at its highest you may also want to limit the amount of time your pet spends outside.