Ticks are arachnids that belong to the same family as spiders and mites. They are parasitic and feed on the blood of host animals. They are visible to the naked eye, but the start of around the size of a pinhead before swelling with blood as they feast.
Animals living in the Southern States or near heavily wooded areas will have increased exposure to ticks which like to live in thick long grass, as it allows them to attach to host animals as they walk by. They are most active during the late spring and summer months and they are not fussy which breeds of animals they feed on. However, animals that spend a lot of time outdoors will be more susceptible to ticks.
Animals with few ticks can present with little or no symptoms and it is often not until there is a larger infestation or infection from the bites that signs become apparent. If and when symptoms do materialize they can include itching, scratching and visible red or inflamed irritations on the skin.
Ticks can transmit a number of diseases including Babesia, Cytauxzoonosis, Lyme disease and Mycoplasma. Some animals can also have allergic reactions to tick bites which result in infections. Symptoms from these reactions or diseases can include fever, lethargy, loss of appetite and pain and can last for several days or several weeks. If you are concerned that your pet has developed illness from a tick bite, consult with your veterinarian as soon as possible.