Protecting Your Pet (And Family) From Ticks

Ticks are a really big problem for our Los Angeles pets, they are known to spread a number of serious diseases that are dangerous to both pets and their owners. Here our vets discuss how these external parasites thrive, signs to be aware of, and how to keep ticks from compromising your pet and family's health.

What are ticks?

Ticks are external parasites that feed on the blood of animals and humans. Thankfully they can't jump or fly, they rely solely on their hosts (usually, it's wild animals that are responsible for bringing ticks onto your property) for transport. Once they are on your property, pets frequently become hosts and the parasites are then brought into your home.

Are ticks dangerous?

Tick spread a number of serious diseases that are dangerous to both people and their pets. Hosts can contract serious illnesses such as Lyme disease when the tick's saliva containing germs and bacteria makes its way into the bloodstream.

What do ticks look like in Los Angeles?

The western black-legged tick is one of the most common tick species found in Los Angeles and has the dubious distinction of being the species responsible for most cases of Lyme disease in our state. It's joined by the pacific coast tick, and the brown dog tick.

The western black-legged tick is found in wooded, brushy areas and both males and females have flat, oval bodies. They are approximately 3mm in length, adult females have black legs and heads while the abdomen is reddish. These ticks can be found in deciduous forests, high brush, and open grasslands. They are present year-round. The pacific coast ticks are flat and oval in shape, and usually brown with whitish-gray markings they are commonly found in open fields and shrubs and are known to transmit diseases like rocket mountain spotted fever and anaplasmosis. Adult brown dog ticks are reddish-brown and lack any easily noticeable markings that are found on many other tick species, they may live in grass or bushes around homes, dog houses, or kennels and transmit diseases such as ehrlichiosis and babesiosis.

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 number of different methods for getting rid of and preventing ticks on small pets and dogs. Your options include spot-on treatments, oral medications, tick collars, or even using a shampoo containing medicated ingredients to bathe your pet and kill ticks on contact. Let your vet help you decided what tick remedy is best suited to your dog's lifestyle.

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.

If your dog keeps bringing home ticks, it's time to talk to your vet. Contact us today and let us find the right preventive care routine so your dog doesn't come home with any serious or life-threatneing tick-bourne ilnesses.