Ticks can spread several serious diseases and are therefore dangerous to people and pets. In this post, our East Setauket 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 external parasites that feed on animal and human blood. They cannot fly or jump, so they must rely on hosts for transportation (usually, wild animals are responsible for bringing ticks onto your property). Once on your property, pets frequently become hosts, allowing parasites to enter your home.
Are ticks dangerous?
Ticks are dangerous to both humans and pets because they spread a variety of serious diseases. When the tick's saliva, which contains germs and bacteria, enters the bloodstream, it can cause serious conditions such as Lyme disease.
What do ticks look like in East Setauket?
The black-legged tick (also known as the deer tick) is one of the most common tick species found in East Setauket and has the dubious distinction of being the species responsible for most cases of Lyme disease in our state. It's joined by the lone star tick, and the American dog tick.
The male and female black-legged ticks have flat, oval bodies and are found in wooded, bushy areas. Male deer ticks are about 1/16" in size and reddish-brown overall, whereas 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). They are longer than they are wide, with sharply pointed, toothed mouthparts visible from above. Though ticks can be found all year, they are most active during the warmer months (April to September).
How do I check my pet for ticks?
Check your dog for ticks after even a short walk through the bush and grass. Examine your pet's fur deeply, behind and inside the ears, between the legs, around the neck, and between the toes.
How do I get rid of or prevent ticks?
Ticks on small pets and dogs can be removed and prevented using a variety of methods. Spot treatments, oral medications, tick collars, and even using a shampoo containing medicated ingredients to bathe your pet and kill ticks on contact are all options. Consult your veterinarian to determine the best 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.