Ticks are capable of spreading a variety of serious diseases and therefore can be dangerous to both people and pets. Here, our Carrollton vets explain how these external parasites thrive, including what signs to beware of and how to keep ticks away from your pets and your family.
What are ticks?
Ticks are external parasites that feed on the blood of animals and people. They aren't able to fly or jump like other external parasites so they rely on their hosts to move about. Once ticks are on your property or in your area, pets will often become hosts and bring these parasites into your home.
Are ticks dangerous?
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 contains germs and bacteria—makes its way into the bloodstream.
What do ticks look like in Carrollton?
One of the most common tick species found in West Georgia and East Alabama is the black-legged tick (also often called the deer tick). This species has the unfortunate distinction of being responsible for most cases of Lyme disease in our area. It is joined by the lone star tick and the American dog tick as the most common ticks in our region.
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).
How do I check my pet 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.
How do I get rid of or prevent ticks?
You can use a variety of methods for preventing and removing ticks on small pets like dogs. These options include spot-on treatments, oral medications, tick collars, or shampoos that contain medical ingredients that kill ticks on contact. Ask your vet to determine the right option for you and your companion.
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.