Ticks are responsible for spreading a range of serious diseases that are dangerous to both pets and people. Today, our Orange vets talk about ticks including how they thrive, the signs you need to look for, and how you can protect your family and pets from these parasites.
What are Ticks?
Ticks are a type of external parasite that feeds on human and animal blood. They are unable to fly or jump so they need hosts (generally, wild animals bring ticks onto your property) to get around. As soon as they enter your property, your pets can become their hosts and bring the parasites into your home.
Why Ticks are Dangerous
Ticks are dangerous to pets and animals because they can spread a range of serious diseases. People can get serious conditions including Lyme disease when the tick's saliva—which contains germs and bacteria—enters the bloodstream.
What Ticks Look Like in Orange
The black-legged tick (which can also be called the deer tick) is one of the most common species of tick found in Orange and has the dubious distinction of being the species responsible for the most Lyme disease cases in California. It's joined by the lone star tick, American dog tick, groundhog tick, and brown dog tick.
The black-legged tick can often be found in wooded, bushy areas. Both male and female ticks have flat, oval bodies. While the female's 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 mouth parts that can be clearly seen from above. Though tick exposure can happen year-round, they are most active during warmer months (April to September).
Checking Your Cat or Dog for Ticks
Even after a short walk 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 to Prevent and Get Rid of Ticks
There are a handful of 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 find out which options would be best for you and your cat or dog.
To prevent ticks from coming into your yard, we recommend keeping your lawn well-trimmed. This provides ticks with fewer places to live and breed, reducing the risk of ticks being around. At the height of tick season, you may also want to limit the amount of time your pet spends outside.