Clegg's Blog

What is an American Dog Tick?

American_Dog_Tick_metricTicks are a common problem all over the United States. In general, they vary in size and color based on their species. Some ticks can be larger than a sunflower seed when they're full of blood, and others can be smaller than 1 millimeter in their larvae state. Some of the most common ticks in the United States are blacklegged, deer and American dog ticks. While all of these ticks are common, it's the American dog tick that causes pet owners the most problems.

How the American Dog Tick Got Its Name

The scientific name of the American dog tick is dermacentor variabilis. However, the tick is most commonly referred to as the American dog tick because of its preference to use domestic dogs as its host. Although these ticks prefer dogs, they also make other animals, including humans, their hosts as well.


The American dog tick is found all over the United States. While this specific tick isn't typically located in the Rocky Mountains, it's often found on trails in the woods, waiting for a dog to latch on to. Once attached, the dog takes it home, where it can attach to humans.


American dog ticks are usually brown, but sometimes they also have gray or whitish markings. Their bodies are flat and oval. In their larvae state, American dog ticks have only six legs, but they have eight legs once they reach adulthood. Like many other species of ticks, this type doesn't have antennae.


Just like other ticks, American dog ticks can cause reason for concern. They are known for carrying diseases that can spread to humans through bites. An example of such a disease is the Rocky Mountain spotted fever. These pests can also spread tularemia and bacterial infections.

Preventing Tick Bites

Completely preventing tick bites is nearly impossible. However, there are things that people can do to limit their chances of being bitten. First, you should always wear pants and long-sleeved shirts when you go to places where ticks are common. These clothes should also be light-colored to make the ticks easier to detect. Stores sell tick repellents that help keep most ticks at bay.

Before heading home, humans and dogs should be checked for ticks. If a tick is found, it should be removed using fine-tipped tweezers. With the tweezers, you should grip the tick as close to the surface off the skin as possible and pull upward with steady pressure. Do not jerk or twist it because that can make the head of the tick detach and remain under the skin. If you have trouble and cannot remove completely and safely you may want to seek medical help.

Professional Assistance

For questions on the American Dog Tick or about any other type of pest control, contact Clegg’s online or on the phone at 888-672-5344 for a complete evaluation of your home or business.

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