Ticks are spreaders of serious diseases; therefore, they are a preeminent threat to pets and their owners. In this post, our Yucaipa vets explain what allows these external parasites to thrive, what signs of their influence to be aware of, and how to keep ticks away from your pets and your human family.
Ticked off About Ticks
Ticks are external parasites that feed on the blood of animals and humans like a tiny 6 legged vampire. They do not fly or jump and so rely on hosts (usually, it's wild animals that are responsible for bringing ticks onto your property) for transportation. Once they are on your property, pets frequently become hosts themselves and the parasites are then brought into your home.
The Danger of Ticks
Because ticks spread a number of serious diseases, they are dangerous to both people and pets. People can get serious conditions such as Lyme disease when the tick's saliva—which is bubbling to burst with germs and disease—makes its way into the bloodstream.
Yucaipa's Most Wanted. Identifying Ticks in California
The black-legged tick (also known as the deer tick) is one of the most common tick species found in Yucaipa and has the dubious distinction as being the species responsible for most cases of Lyme disease in our state. It's joined by the American dog tick, and brown dog tick.
The black-legged tick is found in wooded, brushy 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).
The Brown Dog tick gets its common name from its overall reddish-brown color, and because it is commonly found on domestic dogs.
The American dog tick gets its name from the fact that adult ticks prefer to feed on domestic dogs, coupled with the tick species being found only in North America. The American dog tick is a member of the hard tick family, meaning that it possesses a hard exterior shield.
Checking Your Dog for Ticks
Even after a short walk through bush and grass, check your dog carefully for ticks. Be sure to check deep within your pet's fur, behind and inside the ears, between the legs, around the neck and between the toes.
Preventing Ticks In Your Pets
You can use a number of 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.