Dog ticks are among the largest ticks in North America. These writhing mini-monsters are a bane to pet owners. No one likes to pull an engorged dog tick off themselves or a pet, but a tick bite can be as dangerous as it is unpleasant. In some cases, dog tick infestation may require the intervention of a professional pest control company.
Ticks survive on hematophagy, or drinking other organism's blood. They rely on humidity for hydration and warmer temperatures for their eggs to hatch. This is why ticks undergo population booms during the summer months.
As an arachnid, ticks are related to spiders. Tick varieties are further broken down into hard and soft ticks. Dog ticks are hard ticks, which have hard bodies and pronounced heads. The two most common varieties are Dermacentor variabilis, or the American dog tick, and Rhipicephalus sanguineus, the brown dog tick.
American dog ticks are found east of the Rocky Mountains. Brown dog ticks can be found all over the US and, unfortunately, can complete their life cycles entirely indoors.
Dog ticks can pose numerous health risks to both humans and pets. The most common problem is a topical skin allergy caused by the tick's saliva. The allergy can cause itching and irritation around bite marks.
Ticks are also carriers of parasitic, blood-born diseases. Healthy pets and people are less susceptible to these illnesses than the young, sick or elderly.
Dog ticks are known carriers of:
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
- And, though uncommon, Lyme Disease
The American dog tick can also cause a frightening condition called tick paralysis. Pregnant female ticks can transmit a neurotoxin with its bite. Tick paralysis can cause gradual muscle weakness in both pets and humans. Symptoms usually stop when the tick is removed, but tick paralysis can be dangerous for the ill, young and elderly.
Topical tick treatments on pets wear off and do not always keep ticks from biting. In fact, many only kill ticks after they have bitten. They do not protect your pets from tick-born illnesses.
Because they can lay eggs indoors, brown dog ticks can infest homes, and with a steady supply of food, any tick variety can come to infest yards. Ticks can be resilient pests. Professional pest control companies are the best option for treating and preventing tick infestations. They can eliminate pests indoors and out, treating all stages of the tick's life cycle thoroughly and effectively. If you live in an area with a high concentration of ticks, you may want to consult a professional exterminator and pest controller for more information.