Did you know ticks are capable of spreading several serious diseases? This is why they pose a danger to people and pets. Today, our Oakland vets describe how these external parasites thrive, which signs to look for, and how to keep ticks away from your pets and family.
What are ticks?
Animals and humans can become infected with ticks, external parasites that feed on the blood. Though these parasites do not jump or fly, they attach to hosts as they pass by (typical hosts are wild animals that bring ticks onto your property). Once they are transported onto your property, pets can frequently become hosts and bring the parasites into your home.
Are ticks dangerous?
Ticks are dangerous to people and pets, as they can spread a number of serious diseases. While people can get serious conditions such as Lyme disease if tick's saliva—which contains bacteria and germs—gets into the bloodstream.
What do ticks look like in Oakland?
One of the most common tick species found in Oakland is the nymphal Western black-legged tick. There is also the Pacific coast tick, wood tick, brown dog tick and American dog tick. These ticks find refuge in California's natural vegetation.
Both male and female black-legged ticks have flat, oval-shaped bodies and are found in brushy, wooded areas. While male deer ticks are roughly 1/16" and reddish-brown overall, 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). Their sharply pointed, toothed mouthparts can be seen clearly from above. They are longer than they are wide. Though pets can be exposed to ticks year-round, pet owners should be vigilant from late fall until May or June. April and May is peak season for nymphal Western black-legged ticks.
How do I check my pet for ticks?
After walking through grass or bush, carefully check your dog for ticks. Check deep within his or her fur, inside and behind the ears, between the toes and legs, and around the neck.
How do I get rid of or prevent ticks?
To get rid of and prevent ticks on dogs and small pets, many different methods can be used, Options include tick collars, oral medications and spot-on treatments, or even a shampoo with medicated ingredients to bathe your pet. It will also kill ticks on contact. Talk to your vet to find the right option for you and your pet - we have many parasite prevention products available.
Keeping your lawn well-trimmed can keep ticks away from your yard. This gives ticks fewer areas to breed and live, reducing the risk of ticks coming around. In peak tick season, you will also want to minimize the amount of time your pet spends outside.