Ticks are an external parasite that can make your pet quite miserable. They are also responsible for transmitting a handful of severe diseases, which makes them a threat to the health of both pets and people. Today, our Toledo vets discuss the ways ticks thrive, including how to recognize them and protect your pets and family from these parasites.
What are Ticks?
Ticks are a kind of external parasite that survives on the blood of people and animals. They don't have the ability to fly or jump so they need hosts (most of the time wild animals bring ticks to your property) to get around. After the ticks have arrived on your property your pets usually become their hosts and bring the fleas into your home.
Why Ticks are Dangerous
Since ticks can carry various severe diseases, they are dangerous to the health of humans and pets. People can get serious diseases like Lyme disease when the tick's saliva—which contains germs and bacteria—makes its way into the bloodstream.
What Toledo Ticks Look Like
The black-legged tick (also called the deer tick) is one of the most common species of ticks in Toledo and is known for being the species responsible for most cases of Lyme disease in Ohio. It's joined by the lone star tick, American dog tick, and brown dog tick.
The black-legged tick can be spotted in wooded, bushy 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 that can be clearly seen from above. While you can be exposed to ticks all year, they are more active in the warmer months (April to September).
How to Check Your Cat or Dog for Ticks
Even if you have only taken a brief walk in grass and bush, carefully inspect your pet for ticks. Remember to look deep within their coat, between their legs and toes, around their neck, and behind and inside their ears.
Ways to Prevent and Get Rid of Ticks
There are various ways you can protect your pet from and get rid of ticks on cats, dogs, and other small pets. Some options include tick collars, oral medications, spot-on treatments, or a shampoo that is made from medicated ingredients that you can bathe your pet in to kill ticks on contact. Ask your vet which option may be best for you and your pet.
To help keep ticks away from your yard, it's a good idea to 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'll also want to limit the amount of time your pet spends outside.