Veterinary practices: Show us your ticks!

VettedVetted June 2019
Volume 114
Issue 6

Submit ticks you find your veterinary patients and in return, get information on tick risk in your areaall thanks to the Show Us Your Ticks project.

Intense brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) infestation on a dog. Photo courtesy of Koral Watson, RVT.

At this point, everyone in the veterinary profession knows that ticks are common on pets.1 But until recently there was no national data documenting the breadth and diversity of ticks infesting dogs and cats in the U.S. With the help of veterinarians across the country, an ongoing study at Oklahoma State University is changing that. First launched in 2018, the Show Us Your Ticks project has already identified more than 11,000 ticks from veterinary patients in 49 of the 50 states. Submissions will be accepted through 2020.

The overarching goal of the project is to characterize the species and stages of ticks infesting pets in various

Nymphs of the spinose ear tick (Otobius megnini) removed from the ears of a cat. Photo courtesy of Meriam Saleh and Susan E. Little

Geographic regions, providing real-time, local data about the tick risk faced by different communities throughout the year. This services a real need for clients. According to a study by the Companion Animal Parasite Council, 90% of pet owners want to know about parasite incidence and concerns in their area.2 The Show Us Your Ticks project makes this possible by providing reliable, local tick information to veterinary practices as well as tick identifications at no charge to veterinarians or pet owners.

Veterinary hospitals can use the geo-targeted information to educate pet owners about local tick risk and the importance of adhering to tick prevention and control recommendations year-round. Once ticks are submitted to the project, practices can opt to receive monthly emails with important tick facts and images to share on social media to remind clients about the need to stay vigilant with tick control.

If you're interested in participating, everything you need to know-including submission forms and mailing instructions-can be found at the project's website. Ticks are welcome from all veterinarians, although submissions from the western U.S., where tick risk may be under-recognized, are particularly encouraged. Identifications and a list of diseases known to be transmitted by the species and the stages identified are provided by email within 24 hours of receipt of the ticks.

The Show Us Your Ticks project has identified 14 different species to date, including the newly introduced longhorned

Haemaphysalis longicornis nymph submitted from a dog. Note the flared second palpal segment on mouthparts.

tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis) now established in the eastern U.S.3 Phase 2 of the project will test subsets of submitted ticks for pathogens, gaining further insight into tick-borne disease risk.

The project leaders would like encourage everyone in the profession to join in the ongoing effort, so … Won't you please Show Us Your Ticks?


  1. Dryden MW, Payne PA. Biology and control of ticks infesting dogs and cats in North America. Veterinary Therapeutics 2004;5:139-154.
  2. CAPC, Connecting with Today's Clients (CTC): The Importance of Local, Timely Parasite Information Study. (2014). Accessed 19 April 2019.
  3. Beard CB, Occi J, Bonilla DL, et al. Multistate Infestation with the Exotic Disease-Vector Tick Haemaphysalis longicornis - United States, August 2017-September 2018. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2018;67(47):1310-1313.

Meriam Saleh, PhD, is a postdoctoral research fellow at Oklahoma State University. Her research focuses on the distribution of ticks and tick-borne diseases in the United States, as well as the molecular epidemiology of Giardia duodenalis. Susan E. Little, DVM, PhD, DACVM (parasitology), is a Regents Professor and Krull-Ewing Chair in Veterinary Parasitology at Oklahoma State University. She is a founder and co-director of the National Center for Veterinary Parasitology, a past president of the American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists, and an emeritus member and past president of the Companion Animal Parasite Council.

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