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Common Ticks Affecting Dogs and Cats

All pet owners have heard of these tiny blood-sucking parasites, but not everybody may be aware of just how many different kinds of ticks there are, and how many diseases they can transmit. So how do you know what to look out for, and what a tick can do to your pet?

We’ve put together a list of the most common ticks that transmit diseases or cause damage to pets. But regardless of just which ticks are found in your area, it’s best to prevent problems before they occur with a regular tick treatment.

Brown dog tick

Also known as: kennel tick, pan-tropical tick

Scientific name: Rhipicephalus sanguineus

Distribution: Worldwide, but particularly in warmer climates.

Habitat: Unlike other ticks, which prefer the outdoors, the brown dog tick thrives indoors, and often creates infestations in homes and kennels.

Problems for pets: This particular tick is one of the key transmitters of tick-borne diseases worldwide. Brown dog ticks can spread Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

Deer tick

Also known as: black-legged tick, bear tick

Scientific name: Ixodes scapularis

Distribution: Eastern North America

Habitat: Deer ticks prefer shaded areas with some humidity, and are often found in woodpiles or where grassy areas such as lawns border wooded areas.

Problems for pets: Deer ticks are the primary vector for Lyme Disease in the United States, and can also carry Anaplasmosis.

American dog tick

Also known as: wood tick

Scientific name: Dermacentorvariabilis

Distribution: United States, Canada, Mexico

Habitat: Grassy or shrubby areas, particularly near woods. American dog ticks are often found in tall grass or bushes alongside hiking trails.

Problems for pets: The American dog tick is the most common vector for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, but can also transmit Tularemia (hunter’s disease), or cause tick paralysis.

Lone Star tick

Also known as: turkey tick, north-east water tick.

Scientific name: Amblyommaamericanum

Distribution: Southeastern United States, Mexico.

Habitat: Wooded areas, particularly where there is thick undergrowth.

Problems for pets: These ticks have been known to transmit Ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and have been suspected to cause tick paralysis. Lone Star ticks are problematic in that they are aggressive feeders and will actively seek out hosts.

Castor bean tick

Also known as: sheep tick

Scientific name: Ixodes ricinus

Distribution: Europe and some parts of North Africa and the Middle East.

Habitat: These ticks require high humidity, and are most often found in habitats with a dense undergrowth that keeps the soil moist. This includes woodland, meadows, and hedgerows.

Problems for pets: Within Europe, castor bean ticks are the primary vector for Lyme disease. The deer tick, which is the main transmitter of Lyme disease in the Americas, is not found in Europe.

Gulf Coast tick

Scientific name: Amblyommamaculatum

Distribution: Southeastern United States and some parts of the Caribbean.

Habitat: Found in grassland and in forested areas with dense undergrowth.

Problems for pets: The Gulf Coast tick is known to transmit American canine Hepatozoonosis, a disease that causes fever, joint pain, and muscle atrophy. It is also known to cause tick paralysis.

Western blacklegged tick

Scientific name: Ixodes pacificus

Distribution: Western United States, in particular, California.

Habitat: Nymph stages prefer moist areas at the base of trees and under leaf litter, while the adult ticks seek out more sparsely vegetated habitats such as grassland.

Problems for pets: Western blacklegged ticks are key vectors for Lyme disease, particularly when the ticks are at the nymph stage, though adult females may also transmit the disease. They also can also transmit Babesiosis and Anaplasmosis.

Rocky Mountain wood tick

Also known as: wood tick

Scientific name: Dermacentorandersoni

Distribution: Northwestern United States, southwest Canada.

Habitat: Most commonly found in humid climates with mild winters, and inhabit areas of grass or shrubland with moist undergrowth.

Problems for pets: These ticks are a known vector for Colorado tick fever, a viral infection that causes flu-like symptoms. Rocky Mountain wood ticks are also linked to the Rocky Mountains Spotted Fever and Tularemia.

Marsh tick

Also known as: ornate cow tick, ornate dog tick, meadow tick

Scientific name: Dermacentorreticulatus

Distribution: Throughout mainland Europe, western Asia and some parts of the United Kingdom

Habitat: The highest density occurs in open landscapes such as meadows, but these ticks are also found in forested areas or urban parks.

Problems for pets: Marsh ticks are vectors for a wide range of diseases in animals including Babesiosis, Tularemia, Brucellosis and Q fever.

Hedgehog tick

Scientific name: Ixodes hexagonus

Distribution: Throughout western Europe and as far east as Siberia.

Habitat: As the name suggests, these ticks are associated with hedgehogs and their nests, which can be found in hedgerows, gardens and urban parks.

Problems for pets: The hedgehog tick is highly prevalent among pets in Europe, and is one of the most common to be found on cats and dogs. Hedgehog ticks are known vectors for Lyme disease.

Paralysis tick

Also known as: Australian paralysis tick

Scientific name: Ixodes holocyclus

Distribution: The eastern coast of Australia, usually confined to within 20km of the coastline.

Habitat: Paralysis ticks can be found in a wide range of habitats but thrive in rainforest areas.

Problems for pets: This tick is considered the most medically important of all Australian ticks. Though it is a vector for diseases including Q Fever and Rickettsial Spotted Fever, the main problem is with the tick bite itself. The neurotoxins injected into the host as the tick feds cause paralysis, often leading to death.

Bush tick

Also known as: Asian longhorned tick, cattle tick, longhorned tick, Asian tick

Scientific name: Haemaphysalislongicornis

Distribution: Eastern and central Asia including Japan, China, and Korea. Pacific islands including Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and Hawaii. More recently some instances of the tick have been detected in the United States.

Habitat: Bush ticks prefer a moist, sheltered ground environment.

Problems for pets: While cattle are the preferred hosts for bush ticks, they do feed on pets. They have been known to transmit Babesiosis and Ehrlichiosis, and can cause anemia through blood loss due to their heavy feeding.

Common Ticks Affecting Dogs and Cats

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