what are Ticks: A Serious Issue for You and Your Pet (2023)


Protecting your pets against ticks begins with understanding their lifecycle, the disease they may transmit in under 10 minutes, and the routine tests your veterinarian can perform to detect it.

Ticks are small but dangerous arachnids that can harm both human and animal health. They are more than simply annoyances; they also carry hazardous illnesses with serious implications. In this post, we’ll go deep into the world of ticks, learning about the dangers they represent to you and your pets. We will discuss all elements of this serious subject, from their life cycle and common species to preventative and treatment approaches. Let’s take a deeper look at ticks, which are a major problem for both you and your pet.

How ticks spread disease

Ticks transmit pathogens that cause disease through the process of feeding.

  • Preparing to feed might take anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the tick’s type and stage of life. When a tick finds a feeding site, it grabs the skin and cuts into it.
  • After that, the tick inserts its feeding tube. Many species also release a cement-like material that holds them together during the meal. Barbs on the feeding line can help hold the tick in place.
  • Ticks can also exude small amounts of anesthetic saliva, making the animal or person unaware that the tick has attached itself. If the tick is in a safe place, it may go undiscovered.
  • A tick will gently drain the blood for several days. If the host animal is infected with a bloodborne pathogen, the tick will consume the pathogen along with the blood.  
  • During the feeding process, small amounts of tick saliva may enter the host animal’s skin. If the tick has a pathogen, the organism could be passed on to the host.
  • Most ticks will drop off after feeding and prepare for the next stage of their lives. It can then transmit an acquired disease to the new host during its next feeding.  

Types of Ticks & Where They Are Found:

Tick Lonestar

  • It’s not just Texas. Many southern and eastern coastal states have this tick.

American Dog Tick or Wood Tick

  • East of the Rocky Mountains, and limited areas of the Pacific coast.

The Rocky Mountain Wood Tick

  • Rocky Mountain states including Idaho, Utah, Montana, and Nevada.

Western Blacklegged Tick

  • Northern California is a hot spot for these ticks.

Brown Dog Tick

  • Found in every U.S. state and territory.

Gulf Coast Tick

  • Atlantic coast, Gulf of Mexico.

Blacklegged Tick

  • East of the Rocky Mountains, includes the Midwest.

Lyme disease

Ticks will bite and feed on your dog or cat for several days before abandoning them. During this period, the tick may infect your pet with an illness.

Ticks transmit Lyme disease, a dangerous bacterial infection. Lyme disease can affect dogs, cats, and humans, however it is less prevalent in cats.

Symptoms in cats and dogs include:

  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Lameness
  • Swollen and painful joints
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Lethargy

The Tick Lifecycle’s 4 Stages

Stage 1: Eggs

Did you know that an adult female tick may lay between 2,000 and 5,000 eggs every day? In around two weeks, these eggs begin to hatch.

Stage 2: Larvae

This stage can last for about one week. During this time, tick larvae can feed on animals or humans before detaching themselves. Once they separate, it takes anywhere from one week to eight months to move on to the next stage.

Stage 3: 8-Legged Nymphs

Ticks are looking for blood at this stage. Ticks can cling to and feed on their hosts for 3 to 11 days if they go unnoticed. Most people only see ticks after they’ve been feeding for a few days and have become engorged with blood.

Stage 4: Adult Ticks

When an 8-Legged nymph sheds its outer covering again, it transforms into an adult tick. Adult ticks search for prey by climbing up into tall grasses and plants. They use their legs to perceive their surroundings and can jump onto an unsuspecting pet or person. While eating, an adult female can grow up to 100 times her original weight. She mates with a male tick after feeding, lays her eggs, and the tick lifecycle begins anew.

Tick prevention

Use a tick medication that will either kill or repel ticks if they attach themselves to your pet. There are several therapies available, including spot-on treatments and pills. Consult your veterinarian for the best tick treatment.

Take care! Never use tick medicine for dogs on cats or vice versa. Some canine tick treatments contain chemicals that are poisonous to cats and can be lethal.

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