American Dog Tick Habits
Also called wood ticks, American dog ticks are named for their habit of latching on to domestic dogs and feeding on their blood. These insects are part of the hard tick family and have a hard exoskeleton for defense. Ticks are typically brown with 8 legs and may resemble a seed. After they feed, they become round like a popcorn kernel. American dog ticks are only found in North America, typically outdoors among vegetation.
Risks from American Dog Ticks
It’s a common assumption that ticks in general can carry and spread Lyme disease from their bites. American Dog Ticks do not carry Lyme disease but can spread Rocky Mountain spotted fever among humans and dogs. Most tick bites will not cause disease but a tick bite should always be treated with concern. If you have been bitten by a tick and have symptoms like muscle pains, headache, or fever, see a doctor. Dogs can’t always tell us they’re sick, so watch for signs like poor appetite, vomiting, and coughing. A rash may form around the bite in humans or dogs. Symptoms vary, so always take your pet to a vet if they seem ill or not themselves.
Dealing with an American Dog Tick Bite
If you know you have a tick bite or see one attached to you or your dog, take a pair of fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull upward slowly, exerting firm, steady pressure. Do not jerk, bend, or twist. Ticks must embed their mouthparts into the host before they can feed and must be extracted whole to avoid leaving the mouthparts in the skin. When removed, flush the tick to properly dispose of it and wash the bite thoroughly with soap and water. If you are not able to remove the tick, see a medical professional as soon as possible.
American Dog Tick Prevention
American Dog Ticks like to live in tall grass and ground vegetation. Females often lay their eggs in gardens and potted plants. If you are going to be spending time in these environments, cover any skin that will make contact with vegetation, like your ankles. We recommend tucking pants into socks and wearing long-sleeved shirts, and don’t forget the back of your neck. Inspect and wash skin and clothing when coming back inside. Insect repellents like DEET, eucalyptus oil, and picaridin that contain EPA-registered ingredients can be used to guard against ticks.
Getting Rid of American Dog Ticks