What Are Ticks?

Ticks are parasites that feed on the blood of their hosts. They are attracted to warmth and motion, often seeking out people, dogs, cats, and other animals.

Ticks are generally found hiding in tall grass or brush in wooded areas. When a host is found, the tick attaches its mouth into the skin and begins feeding on their blood. The tick will not release itself from the host until it finishes its meal. This can take hours or days depending on the type of tick.

For dogs, ticks often attach themselves in areas with little to no hair- generally around the ears, the insides of their legs, between toes, and inside of skin folds.

What’s the Big Fuss About?

This year the Center for Disease Control is calling for an epidemic in tick population. Ticks are known to transmit diseases to both animals and humans. While many ticks carry no diseases at all, the threat of disease transmission should always be taken seriously. Most tick-borne diseases take several hours to transmit to a host, so the sooner the tick is removed, the lower the risk of disease transmission.

What to Watch For:

The symptoms of most tick-borne diseases can take anywhere from days to months to appear. These symptoms most commonly include fever and lethargy. However, some diseases may cause weakness, lameness, joint-swelling, anemia, and even paralysis. If you have reason to suspect that your dog has symptoms of a tick-borne disease, contact your veterinarian right away.

What to Do:

Living in the South, tick exposure is inevitable, making prevention key! Keeping grass short and brush cleared around your home can help; but monthly preventatives for your dog is the safest way to prevent the transmission of tick-borne diseases. Products are available over the counter at most pet stores and from your local veterinarian. Unlike heartworm preventatives, no blood test or prescription is required to purchase these products. Even if your pets are on monthly preventatives, you should check them for ticks before coming indoors- especially after being in wooded areas.