Ticks are capable of spreading a number of serious diseases and because of this, can be dangerous to both pets and people. In this post, our Berkeley vets explain how these external parasites thrive, including which signs to beware of, and how to keep ticks away from your pets and your family.
What are ticks?
Ticks are parasites which feed on blood from humans and animals. They don't jump of fly, and so they rely on hosts for transport (often it is wild animals that are responsible for bringing ticks close to your home). Once they are on your property, pets will often become hosts and the parasites are then brought into your home.
Are ticks dangerous?
Bceause ticks spread a wide number of diseases, they can be dangerous to you and your 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 Berkeley?
Western blacklegged ticks (Ixodes pacificus) are one of the most common tick species found in Berkeley and has the unfortunate distinction of being responsible for many of the cases of Lyme disease in California. It's joined by the lone star tick, American dog tick, groundhog tick and brown dog tick.
The western blacklegged 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.
How do I check my pet for ticks?
Even after just a short walk through brush or long grass, make sure to check you pet carefully for ticks. Be sure to look deep into their fur, inside and behind their ears, around their neck, and between their legs and toes.
How do I get rid of or prevent ticks?
You can use a number of different methods for preventing ticks and getting rid of ones that have already bitten your pet. You options include oral medication, spot-treatments or even shampoo containing medical ingredients. 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.