Ticks are capable of spreading serious diseases, making them dangerous to people and their pets. Here, our Kent vets walk you through what you need to know about these parasites, what signs to watch out for, and how to keep them away from your family and pets.
What are ticks?
Ticks are external parasites that feed on human and animal blood. They don't fly or jump, so they rely on their host (usually wild animals) to unwittingly carry them around. Once ticks are in your area, pets will often become hosts: bringing these parasites into your home.
Are ticks dangerous?
Ticks are dangerous to both people and pets because they are capable of spreading a number of diseases. People can get serious conditions such as Lyme disease when germs and bacteria carried by a tick's saliva make their way into a person's bloodstream.
What do ticks look like in Kent?
The western black-legged tick is one of the most common tick species found in Kent and has the unfortunate distinction of being the primary spreader of Lyme disease along the west coast of the United States. It is joined by the American dog tick, groundhog tick, brown dog tick and the lone star tick.
The western black-legged tick is most often found in dense woodland with plenty of short vegetation. Both male a female ticks have flat, oval bodied. Female black-legged ticks are about 1/8" and have an orangish abdomen (although that color can darken after feeding on a host). Conversely, male black-legged ticks are around 1/10" and black-brown all over. Ticks are longer than hey are wide and all have sharp toothed mouths which are clearly visible.
While exposure to ticks is possible year-round, they are most active during the warmer months of the year.
How do I check my pet for ticks?
It is important that you check your dog carefully for ticks after walking through long grass or other kinds of thick undergrowth, even if it was only for a short time. Be sure to check deep within their fur, between their legs, around their neck, between their toes, and around and inside their ears.
How do I get rid of or prevent ticks?
To get rid of an prevent ticks in your pet, you can use one of many different methods. These include oral medications, tick collars, spot-on treatments, are medicated shampoos designed to kill ticks on contact. Ask your vet about the right option for you and your pet.
Keeping your lawn well-trimmed is the first step in keeping ticks away from your yard. This will give ticks fewer places to breed and live. At the height of tick season, it is a good idea to limit the amount of time your pet spends outside too.