Ticks can transmit a variety of serious diseases, making them dangerous to both humans and pets. Our Augusta veterinarians explain how these external parasites thrive in this post, as well as the warning signs to look for and how to keep ticks away from your pets and family.
What are ticks?
Ticks are parasitic insects that feed on the blood of animals and humans. They cannot fly or jump, so they must rely on hosts for transportation (usually, wild animals are responsible for bringing ticks onto your property). Pets frequently become hosts for parasites once they are on your property, and the parasites are then brought into 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, serious conditions such as Lyme disease can occur.
What do ticks look like in Augusta?
The black-legged tick (also known as the deer tick) is one of the most common tick species in Augusta and is the species responsible for the majority of Lyme disease cases in our state. The lone star tick, American dog tick, groundhog tick, and brown dog tick are all members of this group.
Males and females of the black-legged tick have flat, oval bodies and live in wooded, brushy areas. Male deer ticks are roughly 1/16" in size and reddish-brown overall, whereas female deer ticks are about 1/8" in size and orangish-brown (with a reddish-brown colored abdomen that becomes darker after feeding on a host). They have sharply pointed, toothed mouthparts that can be seen clearly from above and are longer than they are wide. Ticks are most active during the summer months, though they can be found all year (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 can be removed and prevented from small pets and dogs using a variety of different methods. You have several options, including spot-on treatments, oral medications, tick collars, and even bathing your pet with a medicated shampoo that kills ticks on contact. Consult your veterinarian to determine the best course of action for you and your pet.
It's a good idea to keep your lawn well-trimmed to help keep ticks out of your yard. This reduces tick habitat and breeding areas, lowering the risk of ticks being present. Additionally, during tick season, you'll want to limit your pet's time outside.