Ticks can spread a number of different and serious diseases and, therefore, can be dangerous to both pets and people. Here our Santa Barbara veterinary team explains how these parasites thrive, including which signs you should be aware of and how to keep ticks away from your pets and your family.
What are ticks?
Ticks are external parasites that feed on people and animals' blood. They don't jump or fly and, so, they rely on their hosts to carry them from place to place (including on to your property). Once they are on your property, pets frequently will become hosts and the parasites are then brought into your home.
Are ticks dangerous?
Since ticks spread a number of different and serious diseases, they can be dangerous to pets and people
Because ticks spread a number of serious diseases, they are dangerous to both people and pets. People can get serious conditions such as Lyme disease when the tick's saliva—which contains germs and bacteria—makes its way into the bloodstream.
What do ticks look like in Santa Barbara?
The Western black-legged tick (also known as the deer tick) is one of the most common tick species found in Santa Barbara. It's joined by the winter tick, Pacific Coast tick, Rocky Mountain Wood tick, American dog tick and brown dog tick.
The Western black-legged tick is found in wooded, brushy areas and both males and females have flat, oval bodies. While female deer ticks' bodies are about 1/8" in size and orangish-brown (with a reddish-brown colored abdomen that becomes darker after feeding on a host), male deer ticks are roughly 1/16" and reddish-brown overall. They are longer than they are wide, and have sharply pointed, toothed mouthparts you can see clearly from above. Though tick exposure may occur year-round, they are most active during warmer months (April to September).
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 treatments for getting rid of and preventing ticks on your pet. These options range from spot-on treatments, oral medications and tick collars to a medicinal shampoo which kills ticks on contact with your pet. Ask your vet to determine the right option for you and your pet.
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.