Your Guide to Ticks in Baltimore and Montgomery County
Spring is here in Baltimore and many of us, including our pets, want to spend time outside. Whether it’s in your backyard or on a hike in the woods, people are concerned about ticks.
Unfortunately, it’s tough to get away from ticks entirely if you are spending time outdoors. They hide in grass, leaf piles that can gather around your home, shrubs, and trees.
At the approximate size of a sesame seed, you might ask yourself are ticks dangerous? We’re showing you the potential dangers and why you need to keep yourself (and your pets) protected.
Why Are Ticks Dangerous?
At a very basic level, a tick is an external parasite. It feeds on the blood of animals and humans. They find their host by their sense of smell and they cannot jump or fly, so they wait for a host to come close so they can latch on with their arms. The tick burrows into the skin of people or animals to draw blood. It leaves its head under the skin with the back parts sticking out.
As if biting and burrowing into the skin isn’t bad enough, they can carry an array of infectious diseases. Tick-borne illnesses can make both people and pets quite sick.
Are Ticks Dangerous for Humans?
According to the Maryland Health Department, symptoms of tick-borne illnesses in humans include:
- Muscle and joint pain
- Stiffness and swelling
Lyme disease is perhaps the most well-known tick-borne illness. In 2019, there were 1,194 confirmed cases in Maryland and 697 probable cases.
Other tick-borne illnesses in humans include:
- Alpha-gal Allergy
- Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis
- Powassan Virus
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
- Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness (STARI)
Furthermore, although rare, ticks can cause paralysis in people—especially children. This happens through toxins in the tick’s saliva.
Are Ticks Dangerous for Dogs?
Tick prevention is important for our furry friends all times of the year. Since adult ticks are active all year long and they are not killed by freezing temperatures, they can latch onto dogs whenever they go outside.
But are ticks dangerous for dogs? They can be, and here is why.
Just like ticks do with humans, they will latch onto your dog’s skin and feed on their blood. Some species attach will immediately latch on while others will look for thinner areas of the skin such as the ears. You might find red and irritated areas where the tick feeds.
While this irritation is uncomfortable, the key consideration is the transfer of infectious diseases. Dogs can also catch Lyme disease from ticks.
Beyond infectious diseases, some female ticks from specific species can cause paralysis in dogs. While this is rare, it’s caused by a toxin that is produced by the tick when it feeds. Symptoms from this that you will find with your dog include change or loss of voice, lack of coordination in the back legs, coughing, gagging, and changes in breathing.
Although frightening, most dogs will recover within 24 hours once the tick is located and removed. Additional treatment by a veterinarian may be necessary. There is no vaccine to prevent this tick toxin.
Are Ticks Dangerous for Cats?
In addition to dogs, cats can also attract ticks. Since cats groom themselves, they may only have one or two ticks at a time on them.
However, the dangers for ticks on cats is the same as humans and dogs. They spread infectious diseases including Lyme disease. Another disease that cats can catch from ticks is called Q Fever.
If a cat contracts Q Fever from ticks, they might show symptoms such as high fever, anorexia, depression, miscarriages, and sometimes seizures.
Please note that you should never apply preventative dog flea and tick formulas to cats. This can be very dangerous to the cat and result in seizures.
What Types of Ticks Are in Maryland?
Generally, there are two variations of ticks: hard ticks and soft ticks.
- Hard ticks have a hard outer shell which are the types found on dogs and cats. When a hard tick is unfed, it looks like a flat seed.
- Soft ticks typically feed on bats and birds. They are shaped like a raisin and do not have a hard shell.
American Dog Ticks are a chestnut color with white or brown streaks on its back. They are found all year long, but they are the most active during the spring.
Deer Ticks, also known as a black-legged tick, are a reddish-brown color with a black shield-like shape on its upper body. These ticks are the most common carrier of Lyme disease.
What to Do if You Find a Tick on You
If you find a tick on you or a pet, it’s important to remove it immediately to lessen the risk of contracting diseases.
According to the CDC, you should remove a tick by:
- Taking a pair of small tweezers and grasping the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
- Pulling upward with a steady and even movement. Do not twist or jerk the tick because pieces of the mouth may break off in the skin. If this happens, you can try to remove the mouth with your tweezers. If that’s not possible, leave it alone and allow the skin to heal.
- When the tick is removed, clean the skin thoroughly with soap and water or rubbing alcohol.
- Do not crush the tick with your fingers. When it is out of your skin, put it in a container of rubbing alcohol or flush it down the toilet.
Below is the graphic demonstrating how to remove a tick with tweezers.
Image source: CDC
If you find a tick on your dog or cat, the steps are initially the same as you make sure your pet’s fur is out of the way. Make sure that you use fine-tip tweezers to get a close grip on the tick. If necessary, have a friend hold a magnifying glass so you can see better.
Protect Your Home from Ticks with Pest Control in Baltimore
Brody Brothers Pest Control provides free estimates to rid your yard of ticks. Our multi-step process uses key timing and product placement to stop ticks in their tracks in every stage, from larva to adult.
When you need pest control for ticks in your home throughout Baltimore and Montgomery County, contact us today for a free quote.