Ticks can spread a number of serious diseases and are therefore dangerous to people and pets. In this post, our Somerset vets explain how these external parasites thrive, including which 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 humans. 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 and the parasites are then brought 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 Rocky Mountain spotted fever when the tick's saliva—which contains germs and bacteria—makes its way into the bloodstream.
What do ticks look like in Somerset?
The American dog tick and the Lone Star tick are the most common species of ticks found in Kentucky. Although bites from these ticks generally only result in minor irritation they can occasionally carry serious diseases that can make both humans and animals ill.
In particular, the adult female Lone Star tick, which has a white spot on its back and is about the size of a pencil eraser, can carry ehrlichiosis, a bacterial disease that can cause anemia, bleeding episodes, lameness, eye problems, neurological problems, and swollen limbs in dogs. The American dog tick is reddish-brown with mottled white markings on the back and is about the size of a pencil eraser. It can carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which can cause fever, coughing, abdominal pain, poor appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and general discomfort in dogs.
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 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.