Why ticks are so dangerous to humans and pets — Alexis’s student essay

Why Ticks Are So Dangerous To Humans And Pets?

Ticks are very small parasites that latch onto the skin of dogs and humans. They like warm, damp environments, so often regions with warmer climates are more prone to intense tick seasons. The species of ticks that live in certain areas vary, and each species can hold different diseases that they pass onto their host. According to Daniel Cameron, M.D, ticks prefer to feed in areas where they can access the most amount of blood. These areas include parts of the body where the skin is thin, such as the neck, ears, and head region.

Dogs most commonly get ticks when walking in grassy areas such as the park or a backyard. The most important time to check if your dog has ticks after time outside is from the early summer to fall, especially if they have been in areas with high grass, as this is a ticks favorite area to live.

A common problem with dogs is that owners do not properly check their entire body, forgetting hidden areas such as inside the ears, the groin area, on the eyelids, and in between their toes. If a tick goes unfound on a dog, diseases that the parasite has can be transferred, potentially damaging their health. 

Close-up of Tick attached next to an Australian Shepherd's eye

The most common tick-borne disease that is passed to animals is Lyme Disease. According to the American Kennel Club, symptoms of Lyme Disease in your pet include a rash around the tick bite, lethargy, loss of appetite, and fever. The American Dog ticks can transfer Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, which has symptoms that include lethargy, stomach pain, and vomiting.

tick crawling on human hand

Owners must be aware of these symptoms and be ready to get treatment if they see these from their dog. If the dog is not treated, this disease could be fatal. Ticks of all species can be dangerous to dogs because of how small they are. Without proper checks of your dog’s body, one could easily go missed. If neglected for too long, this tick could cause the loss of a beloved pet.

In addition to ticks on dogs, humans are also susceptible to getting ticks. Ticks find humans by sensing the carbon dioxide that humans breathe out, and they latch onto them when a human passes by. According to IGenex Inc., ticks use anesthetic properties from their saliva to numb a human before they bite. Because of this, humans often don’t realize they have a tick until they feel it.

Tick bites become dangerous if not treated for a certain period of time, as the tick will become infectious and give Lyme Disease to the host if not removed within around 36 hours. Because ticks numb the area before they feed, the host usually will not recall they were ever bitten. According to a Lyme disease specialist who has treated more than 15,000 patients, only 7% of them could say they remembered being bitten by a tick. The number one sign of Lyme disease after being bitten by a tick is the EM, which looks like the ring of a bullseye. This rash usually appears 3-30 days after the bite, and if recognized quickly, it can be diagnosed and treated effectively.

Taking steps to prevent ticks on both dogs and yourself is equivalent to taking steps to prevent disease. Avoiding tick habitats such as grassy areas and woods while wearing clothing that reveals your skin will prevent the possibility of a tick latching to you. When entering a grassy or wooded area, clothing that covers arms and legs will be most effective for preventing tick bites. Also, consistent checks of yourself and pets will reassure you are not hosting a tick. If you find one latched onto you or your dog, removing it in a timely manner is the most effective way to prevent dangerous diseases.

Author: Alexis Danielson

Indiana University

Student Scholarships

Every year Thrive Pest Control hosts an essay contest and the reward is a 1-year scholarship at a 4-year university in the United States. This blog post is one of those scholarships.