Ticks can spread a number of diseases that can make both pets and people sick. Here, our Portland vets explain the kinds of ticks commonly found in Oregon and how you can protect your pet and your family.
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, wild animals 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. Although Lyme disease is more common on the East Coast and in Colorado, there are cases of it in Oregon each year, both in humans and animals. Other tick-borne animal diseases found in Oregon include Human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (HGE) and Babesiosis.
What do ticks look like in Portland?
The black-legged tick (also known as the deer tick) is one of the most common tick species found in Portland and has the dubious distinction of being the species responsible for most cases of Lyme disease in our state. It's joined by the Rocky Mountain wood tick, the American dog tick, and the brown dog tick.
The black-legged tick is found in wooded, bushy areas and both males and females have flat, oval bodies. While female deer ticks' bodies are about 1/8" in size and orangish-brown (with a reddish-brown colored abdomen that becomes darker after feeding on a host), male deer ticks 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 (April to September).
How do I check my pet for ticks?
Our veterinary hospital team urges the outdoorsy pets and their families to do thorough tick checks after every foray into nature. 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.
If you find a tick on yourself or your pet, remove it carefully with tweezers and contact your veterinarian or doctor
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.