Protecting Your Pet (And Your Family) From Ticks

Ticks are capable of spreading a number of quite serious diseases and, therefore, are dangerous to both pets and people. Here, our Stanwood team explains how these parasites thrive, what signs to look for and how to keep ticks away from your pet.

What are ticks?

Ticks are external parasites that feed on the blood of both pets and people. They aren't able to fly or jump like other external parasites so they rely almost entirely on their hosts for transportation. Once brought onto your property by wild animals, pets will frequently become hosts for ticks and will then bring them 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 Stanwood?

The western black-legged tick (also called Ixodes pacificus) is one of the most common tick species found in Stanwood and has the dubious distinction as being the species responsible for most cases of Lyme disease in our state. It's joined by the Rocky Mountain wood tick, American dog tick and Pacific Coast tick.

The western 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 do I check my pet for ticks?

After even a short walk through tall grass and bushes, check yourself and your pet carefully for ticks. Make sure you check deep within their fur, behind and inside their ears, between their legs, between their toes and around their neck.

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 smart idea to keep your lawn well-trimmed. This will give ticks fewer places to breed and live their lives while reducing the risk of ticks being around to latch onto you or your pet. At the height of tick season, during the warmer months, make sure to limit pets' time outside to reduce their risk of being bitten.

Do you suspect your pet has ticks? Our vets are experienced in diagnosing and treating many common illnesses and conditions. Book an appointment at Northwest Veterinary Clinic of Stanwood today.