Ticks are a serious threat to both people and pets as they are capable of transmitting serious diseases. Today, our Sault Ste. Marie vets discuss what ticks are, what they do to survive, signs and symptoms to monitor for, as well as how to prevent ticks from affecting your family.
What are ticks?
Ticks survive by living one people and animals and feeding on their blood. Because they do not jump or fly they will use animals that they come in contact with (usually, wild animals 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 in and may infest your home.
Are ticks dangerous to pets?
Ticks are extremely dangerous to both people and pets as they are known to transmit a variety of serious conditions and diseases. 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 in the Sault Ste. Marie area look like?
In the Sault Ste. Marie area the black-legged tick (also known as the deer tick) is one of the most common tick species that can be found and has the dubious distinction as being the species responsible for most cases of Lyme disease in our area. 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, 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 coloured 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 assess my pet for possible ticks?
It is important to check your dog after any walks that you have taken through long grass. 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 remove and prevent ticks?
There are numerous methods of tick removal available for use on your dog. Some of the most frequently used 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. It is recommended to speak with your vet in order to determine which method of tick removal or parasite prevention is best for you.
Another way that you can help prevent ticks from being picked up at home is to keep your yard well maintained and the grass cut short. 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.