A tick on a piece of grass
A tick on a piece of grass

Get the Facts About Ticks

What Are Ticks?

Ticks are parasites that feed on blood hosts. Although they look insect-like, ticks are a type of arachnid. They have eight legs, like a spider, and are small. Adult ticks are roughly the same size as an apple seed, with teardrop-shaped bodies. They become visibly engorged after feeding from a host, such as a cat or dog. Most ticks are black or reddish brown in color, with some species sporting unique identifying markings. Keep reading for more information on ticks and to learn how to protect your pet.

Where Do Ticks Live?

Ticks have been reported in all fifty states, with different species being more prevalent in some regions than others. Many people associate ticks with rural areas, but they can be found in urban settings, too. Ticks love humidity and are commonly found in wooded locations and transitional areas with tall grasses.


Because they are hardy opportunists, ticks can thrive in all sorts of settings. There is a risk of ticks at the dog park, on hiking trails, and even in your own backyard. And because ticks can travel by catching a ride on clothing, wildlife, or your pets, it’s not uncommon to find a tick indoors and around your home. In fact, the brown dog tick can complete its entire life cycle inside your home.1

Two dogs being walked on a leash
Two dogs being walked on a leash

Ticks Are a Year-Round Threat

Did you know the threat of ticks isn’t limited to the heat of summer? Adult ticks can feed in the fall and well into winter. Plus, colder weather doesn’t always mean fewer ticks.  For year-round peace of mind, choose monthly FRONTLINE® Brand Products: the #1 name in flea and tick protection.2

A couple walks a white dog in the park during early winter
A couple walks a white dog in the park during early winter

How Do Ticks Get on My Cat or Dog

A tick can easily become attached to your clothing or your dog or cat’s fur, especially if you're near trees or walking through tall grass. If your dog or cat spends a lot of time outside, it’s easy for them to pick up ticks.


What about indoor pets, though? How do they get ticks if they never step outside? In these situations, the tick hitched a ride into your home from the outdoors, most likely on a piece of clothing or a different animal. Then, it only takes a second for that tick to latch onto your pet. This is why indoor pets are still at risk of being infested.

A young tabby cat lays on the hardwood floor, staring intently at a red bean bag a few feet away from its paws
A young tabby cat lays on the hardwood floor, staring intently at a red bean bag a few feet away from its paws

Protect your dog or cat from ticks every month with FRONTLINE® Brand Products

Are There Different Types of Ticks? 

Ticks have been reported in all 50 states. Here are a few tick species to be aware of:
image of a male and female Deer Tick
Deer tick
Also called a black-legged tick, the deer tick’s body is orange and red on the edges. They’re commonly found in the southeastern, northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and upper midwestern states, and can be a carrier of Lyme disease.
image of a male and female American Dog Tick
American dog tick
This species is found east of the Rocky Mountains and in limited areas of the Pacific. The females have off-white markings.
Image of a male and female Brown Dog Tick
Brown dog tick
These ticks, whose bodies are entirely brown, can be found all throughout the US. They live close to human populations and can survive inside.
Image of a male and female Lone Star Tick
Lone Star Tick
Primarily found in the southeastern and eastern regions of the US, this tick is so-named due to a single dot on the backs of the female ticks.

What Types of Diseases Do Ticks Carry That Can Affect My Pet?


Ticks can transmit various life-threatening illnesses. Some of the most common tick diseases that can impact your dog or cat include:


  • 1. Lyme disease: The most common tickborne disease.3 Lyme disease is a serious bacterial infection that affects both animals and humans.*


  • 2. Anaplasmosis: Transmitted by deer ticks and Western black-legged ticks. It affects both dogs and cats and can lead to nervous system disorders.*


  • 3. Babesiosis: Caused by microscopic parasites that infect red blood cells. It’s transmitted by the black-legged tick and is most common in the northeast and upper Midwest.*


  • 4. Ehrlichiosis: Mainly transmitted to dogs via the brown dog tick or Lone Star tick. Symptoms include stiff and painful joints and a reduced appetite.*


  • 5. Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF): This disease causes a fever, headache, and rash, and can be deadly if not treated early on with an appropriate antibiotic.*


*See individual product labels for indications.

Talk to your veterinarian to learn about the different types of ticks and diseases that are common in your area. For tick control, get FRONTLINE for Dogs or Cats.

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Hands reveal a small tick within a dog's white fur.

What Types of Ticks Carry Lyme Disease?

Of all the tickborne illnesses, Lyme disease is the most common.3 It’s transmitted by deer ticks. Lyme disease occurs after an infected tick has bitten a host animal, allowing the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi to travel from the tick to the host. In order for transmission to occur, the tick needs to be attached to the host for at least one or two days.

Protect your dogs or cats from ticks.