Ticks are capable of transmitting a variety of serious diseases and are thus dangerous to humans and pets. Our Baton Rouge veterinarians explain how these external parasites thrive in this post, including the warning signs to look for and how to keep ticks away from your pets and family.
What are ticks?
Ticks are parasitic insects that feed on the blood of both animals and humans. Because ticks cannot fly or jump, they rely on hosts for transportation (typically, wild animals bring ticks onto your property). Once on your property, pets frequently become hosts, bringing parasites into your home.
Are ticks dangerous?
Ticks are dangerous to both humans and pets because they spread a variety of serious diseases. When the tick's saliva, which contains germs and bacteria, enters the bloodstream, serious conditions such as Lyme disease can occur.
What do ticks look like in Baton Rouge?
The black-legged tick (commonly referred to as the deer tick) is one of the most prevalent tick species in Baton Rouge and holds the dubious distinction of being the species responsible for the majority of Lyme disease cases in our state. The lone star tick, American dog tick, groundhog tick, and brown dog tick are all members of this group.
Male and female black-legged ticks have flat, oval bodies and are found in wooded, bushy areas. While female deer ticks are approximately 1/8" in length and orangish-brown in color (with a reddish-brown abdomen that darkens after feeding on a host), male deer ticks are approximately 1/16" in length and reddish-brown in color. They are longer than they are wide, and have clearly visible sharply pointed, toothed mouthparts from above. While tick exposure is possible throughout the year, they are most active during the warmer months (April to September).
How do I check my pet for ticks?
Even after a brief walkthrough of bush and grass, thoroughly check your dog for ticks. Examine your pet's fur thoroughly, including behind and inside the ears, between the legs, around the neck, and between the toes.
How do I get rid of or prevent ticks?
Ticks can be removed and prevented from small pets and dogs using a variety of different methods. You have several options, including spot-on treatments, oral medications, tick collars, and even bathing your pet with a medicated shampoo that kills ticks on contact. Consult your veterinarian to determine the best course of action for you and your pet.
It's a good idea to keep your lawn well-trimmed to help keep ticks out of your yard. This reduces tick habitat and breeding areas, lowering the risk of ticks being present. Additionally, during tick season, you'll want to limit your pet's time outside.