Ticks are a potentially dangerous external parasite that can spread diseases to animals and humans alike. Here, our veterinary team in Ypsilanti explain how these external parasites survive and thrive: from which signs to be aware of, how to avoid them and how to keep them away from your pets and family.
What are ticks?
Ticks are external parasites that feed on the blood of animals and people. They aren't able to jump or fly like fleas or mosquitos, so they rely on hosts for transportation. Most often, it's wild animals that are responsible for bringing ticks into the area around your home. Once ticks are on your property, pets will often become their hosts and bring these parasites 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 Ypsilanti?
The black-legged tick (also known as the deer tick) is one of the most common tick species found in Ypsilanti and has the dubious distinction as being the species responsible for most cases of Lyme disease in our state. 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, 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 brush and long grass, make sure to check your dog carefully for ticks. Be sure to examine deep within your pet's fur, around their neck, in and behind their ears, and between their 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.