Ticks are an external parasite that can infect you and your pet with a wide range of serious diseases. Here, our vets explain how these parasites thrive, what signs to look out for to avoid them and how to keep ticks away from your pets and family in the Sechelt area.
What are ticks?
Ticks are external parasites that feed on blood from people and animals. They aren't able to jump or fly like fleas or mosquitos, so they rely on their hosts for transport. When ticks appear on your property, it is usually because wild animals have brought them there. And once ticks are on your property, you or your pet may become a host and then bring these parasites into your home.
Are ticks dangerous?
Because ticks spread a number of serious diseases, they are dangerous to both people and pets. 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 do ticks look like in Sechelt?
The Western black-legged tick (also known as Ixodes pacificus), is the most common species of tick found in our province. It also has the unfortunate distinction as being responsible for the most Lyme disease cases too. It is joined by the rocky mountain wood tick, the brown dog tick and the winter tick.
The Western black-legged tick is found in wooded, brushy areas and both males and females have flat, oval bodies. While females' bodies are about 1/8" in size and orangish-brown (with a reddish-brown colored abdomen that becomes darker after feeding on a host), males 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.
How do I check my pet for ticks?
Even after a brief stroll through thick underbrush or long grass, it is incredibly important to check your pet for ticks. Look deep in their coat, inside and behind their ears, around their neck, between their legs and between their toes.
How do I get rid of or prevent ticks?
You can use a variety of different methods for preventing ticks on dogs and other small pets and getting rid of the parasites once they have bitten. These options include spot treatments, medicinal shampoos, tick collars, oral medications and more. Ask your vet about the best option for your pet and you when it comes to tick treatment products.
To help you keep ticks away from your yard, it's a good idea to keep your lawn trimmed and avoid letting it grow too long. This will give ticks fewer places to hide and breed, reducing the risk of their presence. At the height of tick season, you'll also want to limit the amount of time your pet spends outside.