Ticks can spread a number of diseases and can be a serious threat to the long term health of people and pets in the Denver CO area. In this post, our Thornton vets explain how these external parasites live and how to help protect your pets and your family from ticks.
What are ticks?
Ticks are external parasites that feed on the blood of animals and humans. They do not fly or jump and so rely on hosts (usually, it's wild animals that are responsible for bringing ticks onto your property) for transportation. Once they are on your property, pets frequently become hosts and the parasites are then brought into your home.
Are ticks dangerous?
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 diseases do ticks in Colorado carry?
The most common tick in Colorado that is known bite humans and dogs is the Rocky Mountain wood tick. These ticks are most active in spring, becoming dormant with warm weather in summer.
Colorado tick fever is by far the most common tick-transmitted disease of the region, and in spite of this tick's name Rocky Mountain spotted fever is quite rare in the Denver area.
The brown dog tick is also common in Colorado and across the US. This tick is known to spread tick paralysis in dogs and may also be responsible for a number of other diseases including ehrlichiosis, babesiosis; hepatozoonosis; and tularemia.
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. Speak with 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.