Ticks are capable of spreading a number of serious diseases and, therefore, are dangerous both to pets and people. Here, our Cincinnati vets explain how these external parasites thrive, including what signs to 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 both humans and animals. They don't jump or fly, so they rely on their hosts for transportation. Generally, it's wild animals that are responsible from bringing ticks into your area. OInce around your home, pets will frequently 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 Cincinnati?
The black-legged tick (also known as the deer tick) is one of the most common tick species found in Cincinnati and has the dubious distinction as being the species responsible for most cases of Lyme disease in our state. It's joined by the lone star tick, American dog tick, groundhog 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).
How do I check my pet for ticks?
Even after just a short walk through grass and bushes, make sure you check your dog carefully for ticks. Look deep within their fur, inside and behind their ears, between their legs and around their neck and toes.
How do I get rid of or prevent ticks?
You have a number of different options for getting rid of and preventing ticks on your pet. These options include spot treatments, tick collars, oral medications and medicinal shampoos that kill ticks on contact. Ask 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.