Ticks are small arachnids (related to spiders and mites) that most commonly live in warm, humid climates and are more common than you may think.
Throughout the US, there are a number of tick species that can carry serious diseases, so it is advisable to seek information from your veterinarian on whether your area is a high risk area.
The six species most commonly encountered:
- found in northeastern, mid-Atlantic and upper midwestern regions of the US
- can transmit Lyme disease and anaplasmosis (white blood cell bacterial infection)
- can infect people as well as pets
Western Black-Legged Tick
- most commonly found in California
- can transmit Lyme disease and anaplasmosis
Brown Dog Tick
- found throughout the US and Canada
- Usually lives indoors (kennels, your home, etc.)
- carrier of hepatozoonosis, canine ehrlichiosis and babesiosis
American Dog Tick
- found east of the Rocky Mountains, as well as California, Idaho and Washington, and Canada
- can transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Lone Star Tick
- found in Texas, middle-southern, central and southeastern regions of the US, as well as East Coast and Canada
- can transmit ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI)
Gulf Coast Tick
- commonly found in the eastern US with large populations in the middle-southern region
- can transmit hepatozoonosis
How Can I Tell My Pet Has A Tick?
It is rare for a pet to have more than one tick at a time so they can be quite difficult to spot. Usually, once they have fed and are engorged with blood, they can be spotted or are felt in the hair coat. Common places are on the tail, legs and face. Some ticks are really small so are almost impossible to see.
How Do I Prevent Ticks?
Many of the veterinarian-approved flea treatments also prevent ticks.
It is important to be mindful of your pet’s outdoor environment. Ticks tend to live in heavily wooded areas and in tall grass so keeping your garden in order is a good step to cutting back potential tick habitats.
Top Tip: After walking your dog, give them a quick tick check by running your hand over their coat and a quick visual inspection of their fur. For outdoor cats, simply do this when they come in from being outdoors.
How Do I Remove A Tick?
Often, if not removed properly, mouth parts can be left in your pet’s skin which can then cause infection and irritation. We shall explain the tick removal process, but it is better to visit your veterinarian if in doubt and they will do this for you.
Top Tip : Buy a plastic tick remover to have on hand. These little gizmos make removing a tick much easier. .
If using tweezers, grasp the tick very close to where it is attached to your pet’s skin. Then with a steady motion, pull the tick’s body away from the skin being careful not to squash the tick. Once removed, bathe your pet’s skin in warm water (using a mild soap if needed) checking to see if there is any evidence of mouth parts being left in the skin (if you think part of the tick is still present then it may be best to take your pet to a veterinary technician to take a quick look). Dispose of the tick by flushing it down the toilet.
Key Point: Only use tick products on the species for which they are intended and also follow instructions carefully.