Ticks are responsible for spreading a range of dangerous diseases to both pets and people. Today, our veterinarians in Knightdale discuss the ways ticks thrive, including the signs you need to beware of, and how to protect your family and pets from these external parasites.
What are ticks?
Ticks are external parasites that feed on the blood of humans and animals. They can't fly or jump, so they need hosts (generally, it's wild animals that carry ticks to your yard) to get around. As soon as they enter your property, pets often become the hosts and bring these parasites into your home.
What makes ticks dangerous?
Because ticks transmit a handful of severe diseases, they are dangerous to the health of both pets and humans. People can get serious conditions (including Lyme disease) when a tick's saliva—that contains bacteria and germs—enters the bloodstream.
What do Knightdale ticks look like?
The black-legged tick (also known as the deer tick) is one of the most common tick species found in Knightdale and has the reputation for being the species that is responsible for spreading the most cases of Lyme disease in our state. It's followed by the lone star tick, American dog tick, groundhog tick, and brown dog tick.
The black-legged tick can be found in wooded, brushy 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 you can see clearly from above. Though tick exposure may occur year-round, they are most active during warmer months (April to September).
How can I check my pet for ticks?
Even after a short walk through bush and grass, carefully inspect your dog for ticks. Remember to look deep within your pet's fur, behind and inside the ears, between the legs, around the neck, and between their toes.
How can I prevent or get rid of ticks?
You can use various different methods for getting rid of and preventing 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. Speak with your vet to determine the right option 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.