Protecting Your Pet (And Your Family) From Ticks

Ticks are a danger to people, cats and dogs because they can spread a number of serious diseases. Here, our South Charlotte vets explains more about these external parasites including what to look for, 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. Unable to fly or jump, ticks rely on hosts for transportation. Most often it is wild animals that are responsible for bringing ticks onto your property. Pets frequently become hosts and introduce ticks into your home once these parasites have arrived on your property.

Are ticks dangerous?

Ticks spread a number of serious diseases, making them a danger to both people and pets. The saliva of the tick contains germs and bacteria which can be transmitted to people and lead to conditions such as Lyme disease.

What do ticks look like in Tennessee?

In Tennessee the most commonly found species include the brown dog tick, the lone star tick, and the American dog tick, however, there are up to 15 different species of ticks that live in the state. 

Most commonly found in warm environments is the brown dog tick. These ticks are a reddish brown color and are approximately 1/8 of an inch in length if they haven't fed and up to a 1/2 inch in length if they are engorged.

Frequently found in parks, along wooded paths, and in farm pastures, the American dog tick is most active in the spring, summer and fall. These parasites are reddish brown in color with white or yellow markings. Male American dog ticks are about 1/8 of an inch in length. Female American dog ticks are a bit larger than the males and can grow up to a ½ inch in length once fed. 

Lone star ticks are most active from April through July. These ticks are about 1/8 of an inch in length and brown in color; the females have a white spot in the middle of their backs.

How do I check my pet for ticks?

Even after the shortest of walks through grass and bush, carefully check your dog for ticks. Be sure to check deep in your pet's fur between the toes, inside the ears, between the legs and around the neck.

How do I get rid of or prevent ticks?

A number of different methods are available for getting rid of and preventing ticks on small pets and dogs. Your options include oral medications, spot-on treatments, tick collars, and even bathing your pet with a shampoo that contains medicated ingredients to kill ticks on contact. Speak to your vet to find 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. When there are fewer areas for ticks to live and breed, there are likely to be fewer ticks around. At the height of tick season it can also be a good idea to limit the amount of time your pet spends outside.

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