Ticks are capable of spreading a number of serious diseases and, therefore, can be dangerous both to people and pets. Here, our New Ulm veterinarians explain how these parasites thrive, what signs you should be aware of and how to keep ticks away from your pets and family.
What are ticks?
Ticks are external parasites that feed on the blood of people and animals. They don't fly or jump and so, they rely on hosts for transportation. Usually, wild animals are responsible for bringing ticks onto the property. Once ticks are on your property, pets will frequently become hosts and the parasites are then brought into your home.
Are ticks dangerous?
No, but the diseases they can carry can be since ticks are able to spread several serious diseases that are both dangerous to people and pets. People can get serious diseases and conditions like Lyme disease when a tick’s saliva, which contains germs and bacteria, makes its way into the bloodstream.
What do ticks look like in our area?
In our area, the most common tick species is the American Dog tick (wood tick). In the last ten years, the population of the black-legged tick (also known as the deer tick) has increased significantly in Brown County and the surrounding counties and is the species responsible for Lyme, Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis diseases in our state. It is joined most recently by the lone star 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.
How do I check my pet for ticks?
Even after just a short walk through bushes or long grass, check your pet carefully for signs of ticks. Make sure you are checking in detail, deep within your pet's fur, inside their ears, around their neck, between their legs and between their toes.
How do I get rid of or prevent ticks?
You can use a few different methods for getting rid of and preventing ticks on your pets. Your options include oral preventive medications for dogs and spot-on treatments for cats. Speak with your vet to determine the right option for you and your pet.
To help keep ticks away from your yard, it is 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. Prior to the height of tick season, it is important that your pet is current on tick prevention and Lyme vaccination. Though ticks are most active during warmer months (April to September), tick exposure may occur year-round depending on weather. Therefore, year-round prevention is critical.