Ticks are capable of spreading a wide array of disease and as such, are dangerous to pets and people. In this post, our Wake Forest veterinary team walks you through 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?
Since ticks spread a number of serious diseases, they can be dangerous to pets and people. They can cause serious conditions in both, such as Lyme disease, when the tick's saliva—which contains all sorts of bacteria and other germs—makes its way into your blood.
What do ticks look like in Wake Forest?
The black-legged tick (also known as the deer tick) is one of the most common tick species found in Wake Forest. It has the dubious distinction as being responsible for many of the Lyme disease cases in North Carolina. It is joined by the lone star tick, the groundhog tick, the brown dog tick, and recently, the Asian longhorned tick.
The black-legged tick is found in wooded, brushy areas in the north of our state 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 long grass and brush, make sure to check yourself and 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 many different methods and products for getting rid of and preventing ticks on you and your pets. You can use oral medication, spot treatments, tick collars or even medicinal shampoo. 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.