Ticks can spread a number of serious diseases and are therefore pose a danger to people and pets. In this post, our Madison vets explain how these external parasites thrive and how to keep ticks away from your pets and your family.
What are ticks?
Ticks are external parasites that feed on the blood of animals and humans. They do not fly or jump and so rely on hosts (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 into your home.
Are ticks dangerous?
Because ticks spread a number of serious diseases, they are dangerous to both people and pets. 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 look like in Madison?
The lone star tick is the most common tick species in Madison. Adult females are easily identified by a single white dot in the center of their brown bodies, the feature that lends to their name. Lone star ticks aggressively seek human and pet hosts and may transmit disease.
Black-legged ticks, also known as deer ticks, American dog ticks, and brown dog ticks are also commonly found. Due to the warm climate in Alabama, ticks in all life stages may be active year-round.
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.
When hiking in wooded, grassy, or bushy areas, try to stay on towards the center of the trail to avoid any ticks that may be lurking in the deeper grass on the trail edges.