Ticks can spread a number of different and serious diseases and, therefore, can be quite dangerous both to people and to pets. Here, our Middlesex vets explain how and where these external parasites thrive, what signs to look out for and how to keep ticks far from your pets and family.
What are ticks?
Ticks are external parasites that live by feeding on the blood of animals and people. Since they aren't able to jump or fly, they generally rely on hosts like wild animals or pets for transportation into your area or even into your home. Once ticks are on your property, your pet will often become a host and potentially bring these parasites into your home.
Are ticks dangerous?
Since ticks are capable of spreading a number of different and serious diseases, they can be quite dangerous both ot pets and people. People may contract dangerous conditions like Lyme disease when a tick bites them and its saliva—and the bacteria it holds—makes its way into their blood.
What do ticks look like in Middlesex?
The black-legged tick (also known as the deer tick) is one of the most common tick species found in Middlesex and has the dubious distinction as being the species responsible for most cases of Lyme disease in New Jersey. It's joined by the lone star 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 just a short walk through the grass or undergrowth, make sure to check your pet carefully for ticks. In particular, make sure the check behind and inside the ears, between their toes, between their legs and around their neck and collar.
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.
If you have a lawn, make sure you keep it well-trimmed. Since ticks like tall grass, this will give them fewer places to live and breed, reducing the risk of them being in your area. At the height of tick season in your area, you should also consider limiting the amount of time your pet spends outside in green areas and taller grass.