Protecting Your Pet (And Your Family) From Ticks

Ticks are external parasites that can survive on both people and animals and spread a variety of serious diseases. Today, our Vancouver vets talk about how to monitor your pet for ticks as well as steps you can take to protect both your family and your pet.

What are ticks?

Ticks are external parasites that cannot survive without the blood of a human or animal host. Since they are unable to fly or jump, and so they typically depend on hosts, such as your pets or wild animals, in order to travel around. Once they are on your property, pets frequently become hosts and the parasites are then brought into your home.

Why are ticks dangerous?

Ticks are a danger to both your family and pets as they are able to spread a variety of dangerous diseases. People can get serious conditions such as Lyme disease when the tick's saliva—which contains germs and bacteria—makes its way into the bloodstream.

What types of ticks are in Vancouver?

In the Vancouver area, the black-legged tick, or deer tick, is one of the most common tick species found and is recognized 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 mouthparts you can see clearly from above. Though tick exposure may occur year-round, they are most active during warmer months (April to September).

How to examine my pet for ticks?

Even after a short walk through bush and grass, check your dog carefully for ticks. This may be easiest done by having your dog relax and lay down while you thoroughly check them over. 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 should I treat and prevent ticks?

There are numerous treatment options available for tick removal for smaller animals as well as 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.

One of the easiest ways that you can keep your pet safe while around the house is to maintain your property along with keeping your grass trimmed short. 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.

Are you concerned that your pet might be infected by ticks? Our vets can help to diagnose and remove external parasites such as ticks. Book an appointment at Mountain View Veterinary Hospital today.