Ticks can spread a number of serious diseases and pose a real danger to people and pets. In this post, our Orlando vets explain how these external parasites thrive, including symptoms 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 the blood of humans and animals. They do not fly or jump and so rely on hosts (typically, it's wild animals that bring ticks onto your property) for transportation. Once they are on your property, pets can easily become hosts and the parasites are then brought into your home.
Are ticks dangerous?
Ticks spread a number of serious diseases making them a serious health threat to both people and pets. People can contract 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 Orlando?
The black-legged tick (also known as the deer tick) is one of the most common tick species found in Orlando and is 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, 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 in color. Ticks 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 between April and September.
How do I check my pet for ticks?
Whenever your dog has walked through bush and grass, check your pet carefully for ticks. Be sure to check deep within your pet's fur, behind and inside the ears, around their groin and neck as well as 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. Options include spot-on treatments, oral medications, tick collars, or even using a shampoo containing medicated ingredients to bathe your pet and kill ticks on contact. Ask your vet which is the right option for you and your pet.
Keeping your lawn well-trimmed may help to reduce the number of ticks in your yard, and give ticks fewer areas to live and breed. At the height of tick season, you'll also want to limit the amount of time your pet spends outside.