Ticks are capable of spreading a number of diseases and, therefore, can be quite dangerous to both pets and people. In this post, our Ocala vets explain the how and where these external parasites thrive, which signs to beware of, and how to keep them away from your family and your pets.
What are ticks?
Ticks are external parasites which feed on the blood of animals and humans. The don't jump or fly like fleas or mosquitos. So, they generally rely on their hosts (wild animals) to transport them from place to place. Once ticks have been brought onto your property by a wild animal, your pets will frequently become a host and then bring them into your home if not detected.
Are ticks dangerous?
Since ticks spread a number of different diseases, they can be dangerous to both pets and people. People can contract serious conditions like Lyme disease when the tick's saliva makes its way into their blood stream.
What do ticks look like in Ocala?
The black-legged tick (also known as the deer tick) is one of the most common tick species found in Ocala and has the dubious distinction as being the species responsible for most cases of Lyme disease in Florida. It's joined by a host of others, including the lone star tick, American dog tick, Gulf Coast tick, Bont tick and Argasid tick.
The black-legged tick is generally found in wooded, brushy areas. Both the males and females of this species have flat oval-shaped bodies. Females are about 1/8" in size and an orangish-brown color. Males are about 1/16" and an overall reddish brown color, Deer ticks are longer than they are wide and have sharp, pointed mouths which should be clearly visible 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 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.