Ticks can spread a wide variety of dangerous diseases and therefore can be a threat to both pets and people. Here, our vets in Simi Valley explain what signs to watch for with these external parasites, where they thrive and how to keep them away from your pet and your family.
What are ticks?
Ticks are external parasites that feed on the blood of animals and humans. They do not fly or jump and so rely on hosts (usually, it's wild animals that are responsible for bringing ticks onto your property) for transportation. Once they are on your property, pets frequently become hosts and the parasites are then brought 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 Simi Valley?
The Western black-legged tick (also known as Ixodes pacificus), is one of the most common species found in California and has the dubious distinction 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 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 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 wide array of different methods for treating and preventing ticks on dogs and other small pets. These options include spot treatments, oral medications, tick collars and medicinal shampoos you can use top bathe your pet and kill ticks on contact. Ask your vet about the right treatment 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.