Ticks may transmit a variety of severe illnesses and are so harmful to both humans and pets. In this post, our New York veterinarians explain how these external parasites flourish, including warning signs to look for and how to keep ticks away from your pets and family.
What are ticks?
Ticks are external parasites that feed on the blood of animals and humans. They do not fly or jump and so rely on hosts (usually, it's wild animals that are responsible for bringing ticks onto your property) for transportation. Once they are on your property, pets frequently become hosts and the parasites are then brought into your home.
Are ticks dangerous?
Because ticks spread a number of serious diseases, they are dangerous to both people and 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 New York?
The blacklegged tick (also known as the deer tick) is one of the most common tick species found in New York 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, American dog tick, groundhog tick and brown dog tick.
The 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 (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?
Ticks may be removed and prevented on small pets and dogs using a variety of ways. You can use spot-on treatments, oral medicines, tick collars, or even a shampoo containing medicated chemicals to wash your pet and kill ticks on contact. Consult with your veterinarian to decide the best solution 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.