Ticks spread a number of serious diseases, making them a serious danger to both people and pets in the Asheville area. Here, our vets explain what to look for, and how to keep ticks away from your family and your pets.
What are ticks?
Ticks are external parasites that attach themselves to a living host and feed on the host’s blood to survive. Since ticks can't fly or jump, they rely on hosts for transportation as well as food. Typically, local wildlife is responsible for bringing ticks into your backyard and garden. Once ticks find their way on to your property, pets can quickly become hosts for these parasites.
Are ticks dangerous?
As ticks feed on a host (animal or person) they can transmit disease-causing bacteria or viruses. In North Carolina the most common diseases transmitted by ticks to dogs and people are Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme disease.
What kind of ticks are found in North Carolina?
There are a number of different ticks living in North Carolina. Some of the most commonly found ticks include the black legged tick (deer tick), American dog tick, Lonestar tick, and brown dog tick.
Blacklegged Tick (also called deer tick)
- Blacklegged ticks are responsible for the spread of Lyme Disease in humans and dogs. The blacklegged tick (deer tick) is found across North Carolina in moist, shaded habitats such as wooded or forested areas. Before feeding the female blacklegged tick is roughly 1/8”, while male ticks are slightly smaller at about 1/16”. They have flat, oval bodies, and are not hard-shelled. Females are orangish brown except for their legs, mouthparts, and scutum (shield). Male deer ticks are reddish brown all over.
American Dog Tick
- American dog ticks are responsible for the spread of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. The American dog tick lives along woodland paths, in recreational parks, farm pastures, wastelands, and other shrubby habitats throughout North Carolina. These ticks are reddish brown in color with white or yellow markings. Males are about 1/8 of an inch in length and females are a bit larger and can grow up to a ½ inch in length when fully engorged.
The Lone Star Tick
- Recent research has linked the lone star tick to the "alpha-gal allergy" in people which can result in an allergy to meat including beef, pork, and lamb. The lone star tick lives along woodland paths, in recreational parks, farm pastures, wastelands, and other shrubby habitats mainly in coastal areas of North Carolina. Lone star ticks are about 1/8 of an inch in length and brown in color; the females have a white spot in the middle of their backs.
Brown Dog Tick
- The brown dog tick can be found throughout North Carolina. This tick is most likely to inhabit warm environments and will often lay egg in cracks and crevices along building foundations. Populations of brown dog ticks can reach huge numbers in kennels, if left untreated. They are reddish brown in color and are approximately 1/8 of an inch long if they haven't fed, and up to a 1/2 inch long after feeding.
How do I check my pet for ticks?
Our Asheville vets recommend that you check your pet for ticks whenever they have walked through grassy areas, forests, or scrubland. Check carefully between your dog's toes, inside their ears, between their legs, and around their neck, for ticks.
How do I get rid of or prevent ticks?
Preventing ticks from making your pet a host is far better than treating your pet after ticks have been found. Speak to your vet to find out which tick prevention method is best for your dog or cat.
If you find ticks on your pet, there are a number of treatments available from your vet including, spot treatments, and shampoos that kill ticks on contact.
It's also a good idea to keep your lawn well trimmed in order to help reduce the number of ticks on your property. The fewer areas for ticks to live and breed, means fewer ticks near home.
Tick prevention medication is the best way to prevent ticks from making your pet their host. To learn more about tick prevention contact Animal Hospital of North Asheville today.
Looking for a vet in Asheville?We're always accepting new patients, so contact our veterinary hospital today to book your pet's first appointment.
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