Ticks are capable of spreading a number of different and serious diseases to both people and pets. Here, our Banning Veterinary Hospital veterinarians explain how these external parasites thrive, where to find them, what to look out for and how to keep them away from your pet.
What are ticks?
Ticks are external parasites that feed on the blood of both animals and humans. They aren't able to fly or jump like mosquitos or fleas, so they rely on their hosts to transport them from place to place. Usually it's wild animals which are responsible for bringing ticks into the area around your home. Once they are on your property, pets frequently become hosts and the parasites are then brought into your home.
Are ticks dangerous?
Since ticks are able to spread a number of different and serious diseases, they can be both dangerous to people and pets. People can catch serious diseases or develop conditions from tick contact, such as Lyme disease when a tick's saliva makes its way into your blood stream.
What do ticks look like in Riverside County?
The black-legged tick (also known as the deer tick) is one of the most common tick species found throughout Riverside County. It's joined by the winter tick, Pacific Coast tick, Rocky Mountain Wood tick, American dog tick and brown dog tick.
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 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.