Ticks are responsible for spreading a range of diseases that could be dangerous to the health of both pets and people. Today, our vets in Groton discuss the ways ticks thrive, the signs you have to watch for, and how you can protect your pets and family from these external parasites.
What are ticks?
Ticks are external parasites that feed on the blood of animals and humans. They do not fly or jump and solely 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.
How dangerous are ticks?
Because ticks are responsible for spreading a range of severe diseases, they are a danger to the health of both pets and humans. People are able to contract dangerous illnesses such as Lyme disease when the tick's saliva (which contains germs and bacteria) enters the bloodstream.
How can I recognize ticks in Groton?
The black-legged tick (also called the deer tick) is one of the most common species of tick spotted in Groton and has the shady reputation for being the species most responsible for spreading 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 can I check my cat or dog for ticks?
Even if you were only out for a short walk in the grass or brush, carefully examine your pet for ticks. Be sure to look deep within your dog or cat's fur, behind and inside the ears, between the legs, around the neck, and between the toes.
How can I prevent or get rid of ticks?
There are various ways you can prevent and get rid of ticks on dogs and other small pets. Some of the options available to you can consist of oral medications, tick collars, spot-on treatments, oral medications, or even washing your pet with a shampoo that contains medicated ingredients that could kill ticks on contact. Talk to your veterinarian, who will be able to help you determine the best option for you and your cat or dog.
To help prevent ticks from coming into your yard, keep your lawn well-trimmed. This will provide ticks with fewer areas to hide, live and breed, lessening the risk of ticks being around. When tick season is at its peak, you might want to limit the amount of time your pet spends outside.