Ticks can spread a number of serious diseases and are therefore dangerous to people and pets. In this post, our Rochester vets explain 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 animal and human blood. They cannot fly or jump, so they must rely on hosts for transportation (usually, wild animals are responsible for bringing ticks onto your property). Once on your property, pets frequently become hosts, allowing parasites to enter your home.
Are ticks dangerous?
Ticks are dangerous to both humans and pets because they spread a variety of serious diseases. When the tick's saliva, which contains germs and bacteria, enters the bloodstream, it can cause serious conditions such as Lyme disease.
What do ticks look like in Rochester?
The black-legged tick (also known as the deer tick) is one of the most common tick species found in Rochester and has the dubious distinction of being the species responsible for most cases of Lyme disease in our state. It's joined by the lone star tick and brown dog tick.
The black-legged tick is found in wooded, bushy 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?
Check your dog for ticks after even a short walk through the bush and grass. Examine your pet's fur deeply, behind and inside the ears, between the legs, around the neck, and between the toes.
How do I get rid of or prevent ticks?
Ticks on small pets and dogs can be removed and prevented using a variety of methods. Spot treatments, oral medications, tick collars, and even using a shampoo containing medicated ingredients to bathe your pet and kill ticks on contact are all options. Consult your veterinarian to determine the best 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.