Dog owners often find pests such as fleas and ticks on their pets. There are many species of ticks that infest dogs, some of which are potentially dangerous to animal health. Wood ticks are ticks typically found in wooded areas and fields and commonly infest dogs. There are several species of ticks that are considered to be wood ticks such as the American dog tick, the Rocky Mountain wood tick and the brown dog tick.
Ticks are not actually insects, but are more closely related to the spider family. The mature tick has eight legs and lives by consuming the blood of its host. Ticks can infest cats, but rarely do so and humans are often bitten although they are not preferred tick hosts. Some wood ticks can infect animals and humans with viruses or diseases such as Lyme disease, Colorado tick fever and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
The American dog tick is a wood tick and is often found on dogs and hunters who spend a great deal of time outdoors. This wood tick prefers to infect dogs, but will bite humans and infests rodents only while in the nymph stage. American dog ticks are usually found near grassy fields, wooded trails and on roadsides searching for a warm-blooded host. The Rocky Mountain wood tick is also a common pest. This tick has a hard shell and latches on to a host and feeds for a period of time. Once the Rocky Mountain wood tick is engorged with blood, it drops from the host.
Wood ticks are typically found outdoors and are most active during the spring and summer months. Avoid areas where wood ticks live, such as field edges or wooded trails. Using tick repellent products may also help reduce tick infestations on humans. Wearing protective clothing when hiking or spending time outdoors may also help prevent human tick bites. Wear a hat, a long-sleeved shirt and long pants to keep ticks from attaching themselves to your skin. Routinely check yourself, your children and your dogs for signs of ticks. Wood ticks usually take up to 24 hours before they begin feeding, giving you time to remove them.
Wood ticks spend most of their lives searching for their preferred host, a dog. Check your dog for signs of wood ticks after it has been exposed to woody areas or grassy fields. Use repellent products such as collars and dips to help reduce tick infestations on your dog. Periodically treat your dog's bedding for ticks and vacuum around walls and baseboards to prevent tick infestations. Apply insecticides to areas where ticks may hide and treat your yard periodically with outdoor tick insecticides. Heavy outdoor wood tick infestations may require reapplications of insecticides every two to four weeks for control.
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