Ticks are external parasites that are responsible for spreading a variety of serious diseases to both pets and people, making them dangerous. In this blog, our Harlingen vets share the ways ticks thrive, including how to recognize them and how you can keep your pets and family safe.
Ticks are external parasites that feed on the blood of animals and humans. They can't jump or fly and need hosts (usually, wild animals are the ones that bring ticks onto your property) to get around. When the ticks are on your property, your pets often become the hosts and bring these parasites into your home.
Why Ticks are Dangerous
Ticks are dangerous because they can spread a variety of serious diseases to pets and people. Humans can get serious illnesses such as Lyme disease when the tick's saliva—which contains bacteria and germs—enters the bloodstream.
What Ticks Look Like in Harlingen
The black-legged tick (also called the deer tick) is one of the most common tick species found in Harlingen, it's joined by the lone star tick, American dog tick, groundhog tick, and brown dog tick. Ticks are responsible for most Lyme disease cases in our state.
The black-legged tick can be spotted 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 that can be clearly seen from above. While you can be exposed to ticks year-round, they are most active during warmer months (April to September).
Checking Your Pet for Ticks
Even after a brief walk in bush and grass, carefully inspect your pet for ticks and remember to look deep within your animal's fur, behind and inside the ears, between the legs, around the neck, and between the toes.
Getting Rid of & Preventing Ticks
There are various different ways you can get rid of and prevent 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 out of your yard, 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 will also want to limit the amount of time your pet spends outdoors.