Ticks have the potential to transmit a wide range of diseases, making them a threat to both humans and pets. Our Westfield vets explain in this post how these external parasites thrive, as well as what warning signs to look out for and how to keep ticks away from your pets and family.
What are ticks?
Ticks are parasitic insects that feed on the blood of both animals and humans. Because ticks cannot fly or jump, they rely on hosts for transportation (typically, wild animals bring ticks onto your property). Once on your property, pets frequently become hosts, bringing parasites into your home.
Are ticks dangerous?
Ticks are dangerous to both humans and pets because they carry serious diseases. The tick's saliva contains germs and bacteria that can cause serious illnesses like Lyme disease.
What do ticks look like in Westfield?
The black-legged tick (also known as the deer tick) is one of the most common tick species in Westfield and is the species responsible for the majority of Lyme disease cases in our state. The lone star tick, American dog tick, groundhog tick, and brown dog tick are all members of this group.
Males and females of the black-legged tick have flat, oval bodies and live in wooded, brushy areas. Male deer ticks are roughly 1/16" in size and reddish-brown overall, whereas female deer ticks are about 1/8" in size and orangish-brown (with a reddish-brown colored abdomen that becomes darker after feeding on a host). They have sharply pointed, toothed mouthparts that can be seen clearly from above and are longer than they are wide. Ticks are most active during the summer months, though they can be found all year (April to September).
How do I check my pet for ticks?
Check your dog for ticks after even a short walk through the bush and grass. Examine your pet's fur deeply, behind and inside the ears, between the legs, around the neck, and between the toes.
How do I get rid of or prevent ticks?
Ticks on dogs and small pets can be removed and prevented using a variety of techniques. Tick collars, spot-on treatments and oral medications are all options. You can also bathe your pet in a medicated shampoo to kill ticks when they come in contact with it. Consult your veterinarian to figure out the best course of action for you and your pet.
Maintaining a well-groomed lawn will help keep ticks out of your yard. By doing this, ticks will have fewer places to live and breed, lowering the likelihood that they'll be around. You'll also want to keep an eye on how much time your pet spends outside during tick season.