Because they are capable of spreading numerous serious diseases, ticks are dangerous to both people and pets. Today, our Cincinnati vets explain how these external parasites thrive. We list signs to beware of and share how to keep ticks away from your pets and your family.
What are ticks?
These external parasites feed on the blood of both animals and humans. Since they do not fly or jump, they depend on hosts (usually, wild animals are responsible for bringing ticks onto your property) for transportation. Once they are on your property, pets frequently become hosts and parasites are brought into your home.
Are ticks dangerous?
Ticks 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 — makes its way into the bloodstream.
What do ticks look like in Cincinnati?
Three tick species commonly seen in Ohio are also disease vectors — the American dog tick, the black-legged tick (also known as the deer tick), and the lone star tick. While uncommon. the brown dog tick is the only tick that can become established indoors in homes with dogs and kennels.
The most commonly encountered species throughout Ohio, the adult American dog tick is the largest tick in the state at about 3/16 of an inch (unfed females, fed and unfed males), and is usually brownish with light gray mottling on the scutum. Younger ticks are very small and rarely seen. After feeding, the female grows much longer (about 5/8 of an inch long) and mostly grey.
The black-legged tick (also known as the deer tick) is one of the most common tick species found in Cincinnati and has the dubious distinction as 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 black-legged tick is found in wooded, bushy 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 mouth parts 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 vaccines, spot-on treatments, 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.