Ticks can spread numerous serious diseases and are therefore dangerous to both pets and their people. Today, our vets in Harrisburg 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?
These external parasites consume the blood of both animals and humans. Since they do not fly or jump, they rely on hosts for transportation (wild animals are often responsible for bringing ticks onto your property). Once they have entered your property, pets frequently become hosts and the parasites then make their way into your home.
Are ticks dangerous?
Ticks are capable of spreading numerous serious diseases, so are dangerous to both people and pets. People can contract serious conditions such as Lyme disease when a tick's saliva—which contains germs and bacteria—enters the bloodstream.
What do ticks look like in Harrisburg?
The four common tick species found in Pennsylvania include the American dog tick, the black-legged tick, the Lone Star tick and the groundhog tick. Two diseases which present the most danger to residents of the state include Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, which are spread by the black-legged tick and the American dog tick, respectively.
The black-legged tick is found in wooded, brushy 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?
Even after a short walk through bush and grass, check 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 a number of different parasite prevention 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.