Because ticks can spread numerous serious diseases, they are dangerous to both pets and people. Here, our Jacksonville vets explain how these external parasites thrive, including which signs to beware of, and how to keep ticks from bothering your pets and your family.
What are ticks?
Ticks are external parasites that feed on the blood of animals and humans. Since they do not jump or fly, they rely on hosts (typically, wild animals are responsible for bringing ticks onto your property) for transportation. Once they've made their way onto your property, pets frequently end up as hosts and bring the parasites into your home.
Are ticks dangerous?
Ticks can spread many serious diseases and are therefore dangerous to both people and pets. People can contract serious conditions such as Lyme disease when the tick's saliva (which contains bacteria and germs) enters the bloodstream.
What do ticks look like in Jacksonville?
Some of the most common ticks species found in Jacksonville include the brown dog tick, American dog tick, black-legged tick, lone star tick, and the Gulf Coast tick.
The black-legged tick (also known as the deer tick) is responsible for many cases of Lyme disease in our state, and other tick species also carry many diseases.
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 bush and grass, check your dog 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 number of different methods for getting rid of and preventing ticks on small pets and dogs. Your options include spot-on treatments, parasite prevention medication from your vet, 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.