Ticks are external parasites that are capable of spreading serious diseases in both people and pets. Here, our Brookhaven vets discuss what ticks are as well as how to protect your pets and family.
What are ticks?
Ticks are external parasites that survive and feed on the blood of both animals and humans. They are unable to fly or jump and so rely on hosts (usually, wild animals are responsible for bringing ticks onto your property) for transportation. Once the ticks have made it to your household they will usually begin to use the family pets as their preferred host.
Why should I be concerned about ticks?
Ticks are responsible for the spread of a variety of bacteria and diseases which makes them a danger to many types of animals as well as people. 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 type of ticks are in Brookhaven?
The black-legged tick (also known as the deer tick) is one of the most common tick species found in Brookhaven 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, 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 should I assess my dog for ticks?
No matter the length of walk you were on if you spent any time in the grass with your dog you should inspect for possible ticks. Check your dog carefully for ticks while being sure to check deep within your pet's fur, behind and inside the ears, between the legs, around the neck and between the toes.
What can I do to prevent ticks?
There are a variety of treatment methods when it comes to ticks that you find on your pet. 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. Your vet will be able to give you recommendations on what will work best for your pet.
Keeping the grass in your yard trimmed can help protect your pet and minimize the risk while at home. 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.