Ticks can transmit a variety of deadly diseases, making them dangerous to both humans and pets. In this post, our Stockton vets explain what makes these external parasites thrive, as well as what indicators to look out for and how to keep ticks away from your pets and family.
What Are Ticks?
Ticks are parasitic insects that feed on the blood of both animals and people. Since they can't fly, they rely on hosts for transit (wild animals are usually the ones who introduce ticks into our yards). Pets frequently become hosts and end up transporting ticks 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 Stockton?
The blacklegged tick (also known as the deer tick) is one of the most common tick species found in Stockton and has the dubious distinction of being the species responsible for most cases of Lyme disease in the state. It's joined by the lone star tick, American dog tick, groundhog tick and brown dog tick.
The blacklegged tick is found in wooded, brushy areas and both males and females have flat, oval bodies. While the bodies of female deer ticks are about one-eighth of an inch in size and orangish-brown (with a reddish-brown colored abdomen that becomes darker after feeding on a host), male deer ticks are roughly one-sixteenth of an inch and reddish-brown overall. They are longer than they are wide, and they 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?
Check your dog for ticks after even a brief walk through the bush and grass. The key places to look are:
- Deep within your pet's fur
- Behind and inside the ears
- Between the legs
- Around the neck
- 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.