Parasites are an unfortunate, but very common part of pet ownership, and most domestic animals will develop some form of parasite problem at least once during their lifetime. Parasites tend to be divided into two categories – internal and external. As their name suggests, internal parasites live inside your pet’s body while external parasites live on your pet’s skin and derive their nutrients by drinking her blood.
Ticks are by far one of the most common parasitic infections affecting pets in the United States today. Ticks are small, wingless creatures that are actually members of the arachnid family. They can vary in exact size and color, but as adults, they all have a flattened oval or tear-shaped body which, as they feed, becomes plumper and more rounded. Most adult ticks start at between 2 and 6 millimeters long but can end up as much as 10mm in length after a large meal.
How did my pet get bitten by a tick?
Ticks can be found across the United States and there is at least one species of tick in every state. They are typically found outdoors, and while they love moist and humid environments, they can adapt to survive in a range of different climates and conditions. Long grasses, wooded areas, trees and bushes are all popular homes for ticks where they lie in wait, ready to attach to your pet as she brushes past. Once the tick is on her body, it will migrate to a warm, moist area where it can feed undisturbed. This is often the undercarriage, lower back or another hard to reach location.
Types of ticks
There are many different species of tick living in the United States, and while some are completely harmless, and the effects of a bite are little more than a mild nuisance, others carry strains of infectious disease that could make your pet, or even any human members of your family that they bite, very unwell.
Here are some of the most common, disease-carrying ticks found across the U.S. and what they could mean for your pet.
American Dog Ticks
Usually found on grassy fields, walkways and trails, these colorful, hardy ticks can survive without a host for as long as two years! American dog ticks are known for transmitting diseases including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Tularemia. These illnesses can be serious in some pets, although they can be treated with antibiotics.
Lone Star Ticks
Lone Star ticks like to hide in dense undergrowth, ready to hitch a ride on your furbaby as she brushes past. Known for being aggressive human biters as well as being happy to tuck into your pet’s blood, the Lone Star tick is easily identified by the light colored splotch on its back which many believe looks similar to a star. Several diseases are transmitted by the Lone Star tick including Tularemia, a condition also known as rabbit fever, that in some cases may prove fatal.
Also known as the blacklegged tick, this type of parasite is often found in forests and heavy woodland. The deer tick is best known for spreading the most common variety of tick-borne disease, Lyme Disease which can cause a range of unpleasant and debilitating symptoms. Deer ticks also transmit several other infectious diseases including Babesiosis and Anaplasmosis.
Brown Dog Tick
Although found across the country, the brown dog tick is more prevalent in the southern States. This type of tick is known to transmit several diseases that can affect your pet, including ehrlichiosis, babesiosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
Fortunately, it is possible to protect your pet from tick bites. There are many different preventive treatments available at Deerfield Animal Hospital and our vets in Antonio TX will be happy to make a recommendation based on the breed, size and health of your pet. There are also products available that can repel ticks from your property. To find out more, please get in touch by calling Deerfield Animal Hospital today.