Ticks can spread many serious diseases. Because of this, they can be dangerous to both people and pets. Here, our veterinary team explains how these external parasites thrive, including which signs to beware of, and how to keep ticks away from your pets and your family in Torrance and Carson.
What are ticks?
Ticks are external parasites that feed on the blood of animals and humans. They rely on their hosts for transportation instead of flying or jumping. Once they are on your property, ticks will frequently become hosts themselves, bringing the parasites into your home.
Are ticks dangerous?
Since ticks spread a variety of serious diseases, they can be dangerous to both people and their 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 Torrance?
The Western black-legged tick (also known as Ixodes pacificus), is one of the most common species found in California and has the dubious distinction as being the species responsible for most cases of Lyme disease in our state. It's joined by the lone star tick, American dog tick, groundhog 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 females' bodies are about 1/8" in size and orangish-brown (with a reddish-brown colored abdomen that becomes darker after feeding on a host), males 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.
How do I check my pet for ticks?
Even after a short walk through bush or grass, you should check your pet carefully for signs of ticks. Be sure to check within their fur, behind and inside their ears, around their neck and between their toes and their legs.
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. Speak with your vet to determine the right option for you and your pet.
To help you keep ticks away form your yard, you should keep your lawn well trimmed. This will reduce the risk of ticks being around while also giving them less space to live and breed close to your home. At the height of tick season, you'll also want to limit the amount of time your pet spends outside.