Ticks can spread a number of different and serious diseases to people and pets, and therefore are quite dangerous! Here, our Tucson veterinarians explain how these external parasites thrive, what signs to look for outside, and how to keep ticks away from your pets and family.
What are ticks?
Ticks are an external parasite that feeds on the blood of animals and people/ They aren't able to fly or jump and so they will rely on hosts (usually, wild animals) for their transportation. Once ticks are in the area around your home, your pets will often become 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 Tucson?
The brown dog tick (also known as the kennel tick or pantropical dog tick) is one of the most common species found in Tucson and are capable of transmitting a wide variety of diseases, including Rocky Mountain Fever, canine ehrlichiosis and babesiosis. It is joined by the rocky mountain wood tick and the Ornithodorus genus of soft-bodied ticks.
The brown dog tick is most often found in areas of heavy vegetation or long grass. Adult ticks are a reddish-brown color and have elongated bodies. Both males and females are generally around 1/10" long and can be difficult to distinguish from one other. However, males do not grow nearly as large as females after feeding. Brown dog ticks are noticeably longer than they are wide and have sharp toothed mouths you can often see from above.
While tick-exposure can occur year-round, ticks are most often active during warmer seasons.
How do I check my pet for ticks?
Even after a short walk through bush and grass, check your pet 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 variety of different methods for ridding your pet of and preventing ticks in the first place. These options can range from spot treatments to tick collars, oral medications and a shampoo which conatins medicinal ingredients to bathe your pet and kill ticks on contact. Ask your vet about the right options 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.