Ticks are nasty, blood-sucking parasites that creep out many pet owners. Sneaky and stealthy, they seek out any opportunity to feed on you or your pet, potentially transmitting life-threatening disease. Brush up on your tick knowledge with the following 10 facts, and keep you and your pet safe from these pesky parasites.
#1: Ticks can be active all year long, and don’t always disappear during the winter
Although many people believe that parasites, such as ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes, die off during the winter, they’re more likely lurking in leaf litter, your home, or on your pet, ready to spring forth as soon as temperatures warm up. Deer ticks in particular pop up once the temperature rises above 32 degrees, ready to make a meal out of your pet, and to potentially transmit Lyme disease.
#2: Ticks can be difficult to spot on your pet, but they have favorite hiding places
When people search for ticks on their pets after a trip outdoors, they often look for the fat, bloated adult ticks and, finding none, think their pet is safe. But, a tick that has hitched a ride on your furry pal has yet to feed, and will be much smaller and more difficult to find. After your pet comes inside, check the following five places for favorite tick hiding spots:
- In and around the ears
- Between the toes
- In the groin area
- Under the collar or clothing
- On the eyelids
#3: Ticks can transmit a variety of diseases
Most people think of Lyme when they think of tick-borne diseases, but these blood-suckers can transmit many other diseases, including:
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever
- Tick paralysis
- Powassan virus disease
#4: Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease we see
At Burlington Veterinary Center, we see many cases of Lyme disease in dogs each year, making it the most common tick-borne illness in our area. Since it occurs so frequently, we highly recommend testing your pet annually for tick-borne diseases, including Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and ehrlichiosis.
#5: Not all ticks transmit Lyme disease
Each tick species transmits certain diseases. While many species transmit multiple pathogens, only one can spread Lyme disease—the black-legged tick, or deer tick. If you find a tick on your pet, use this guide to identify it, and learn the diseases that may have been passed to your furry pal.
#6: Be aware of the tick-borne diseases in your area, for your entire family’s safety
People can be affected by the same tick-borne illnesses as their pets. If we diagnose your dog with Lyme disease, you will need to protect yourself from ticks, since that indicates the ticks in your area are carrying Lyme disease, and you can also be infected.
#7: Ticks need attachment for a long time to transmit disease
Ticks do not transmit pathogens immediately as they bite—they often require attachment for at least several hours to pass along disease. For example, black-legged ticks must be attached for about 48 hours before they transmit Lyme disease.
#8: Ticks do not fall from trees to land on you or your pet
Because of a common myth, many people worry about walking through wooded areas and ticks falling out of trees into their hair. In reality, ticks climb up weeds, bushes, and shrubs to quest for their next host, and will attach to your legs as you brush past.
#9: Year-round tick prevention will keep your pet safe
Since winter weather can be unpredictable, and temperatures can rise above freezing, your pet is never safe from ticks. Guard your best friend with year-round tick prevention to avoid any protection gaps. You can also remove leaf litter, and keep bushes, shrubs, and weeds trimmed to reduce tick habitat in your yard.
#10: Many tick-prevention products are available for your pet
We have a variety of products that will keep your furry pal safe from ticks and other parasites. Many of our clients have great success with the Seresto collar, a flea and tick collar that can protect your pet for up to eight months. If your pet is not a fan of collars, we also have topical and oral medications that will ensure her safety.
Are you unsure which tick-prevention product is the right fit for your pet? Stop by our hospital to discuss the options we have available.