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Protecting Your Pet (And Your Family) From Ticks

Ticks are a danger to pets and to people! These external parasites that can spread a number of serious diseases. Here, our Memphis vets explain what to look for, and how to keep ticks away from your pets and your family.

What are ticks?

Ticks are external parasites that feed on the blood of animals, including humans. Since they can't jump or fly, ticks rely on their hosts to get them around. Usually wild animals are responsible for bringing them onto your property or into your parks and play areas. After the ticks have been transported to your pet's play area, your pet will likely become the tick's new host and then ticks could be introduced to your home. 

Are ticks dangerous?

Ticks spread a number of serious diseases, making them a danger to both pets and people. The tick's saliva contains germs and bacteria that can be transmitted to people, causing illnesses such as Lyme disease.

What do Ticks look like in Tennessee?

As many as 15 species of ticks live in the Tennessee area. The brown dog tick, lone star tick, and American dog tick are the most commonly found species in Tennessee.

The Brown Dog Tick

In warm environments you are most likely to find the brown dog tick, which is reddish brown in color. Before feeding, brown dog ticks are approximately 1/8 of an inch in length.  A brown dog tick that has fed will measure about 1/2 inch in length.

The American Dog Tick

American dog ticks are most active in the spring, summer and fall. These ticks are reddish brown in color with yellow or white markings. American dog tick males measure approximately 1/8 of an inch in length. The females are somewhat larger than the males, and when fully engorged females can grow up to a ½ inch in length. American dog ticks live in parks, farm pastures and along wooded paths.

The Lone Star Tick

Least likely to come into contact with people living in Tennessee is the lone star tick. Lone star ticks are about 1/8 of an inch in length and brown in color; females have a white spot in the middle of their backs. The period of April through July is when these ticks are most active.

How do I check my pet for ticks?

Even after short walks through grass and brush, be sure to carefully check your dog for ticks. Take the time to look deep in the fur around the neck, between the toes, inside the ears and between the legs.

How do I get rid of or prevent ticks?

Many different methods are available for getting rid of, and preventing, ticks on dogs or other small pets. For help deciding which is the best tick prevention or treatment option for your pet, ask your vet.

To help reduce the risk of ticks in your yard keep your lawn well trimmed. The less areas there are for ticks to live and breed, the less ticks there will be around. Limiting the amount of time that your pet spends outside during the height of tick season can also be a good way to avoid ticks.

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