Did you know that different types of ticks can transmit different kinds of tick-borne illnesses? Depending on where you live, you may have several species of ticks just waiting to bite you or your dog on your next outdoor adventure. One of these species that most dog owners are not familiar with is the Gulf Coast tick[1].

What is the Gulf Coast tick?

If this is the first time you’re hearing about this tick, you’re not alone. 83% of dog owners couldn’t identify the Gulf Coast tick as a threat in their area, even though they live where this tick is prevalent[1].

The Gulf Coast tick is a species of tick that may spread diseases to your dog or cause tick paralysis[2]. The Gulf Coast tick is mainly found in the Southeast region of the U.S. in cities including Atlanta, Charleston, Tampa, and Miami, and continues to spread north and west, as far as Maryland and Oklahoma. Take a look at this map from the CDC to see where the Gulf Coast tick is currently active[3].

Diseases the Gulf Coast tick can cause

Tick paralysis

Tick paralysis is a serious medical condition that is caused by a neurotoxin found in tick saliva that is passed onto your dog (or you) after tick attachment. Tick paralysis is caused by many tick species, including the Gulf Coast tick. Signs of infection include change or loss of bark, hind limb weakness and incoordination, breathing difficulty, gagging or coughing, vomiting, and difficulty eating[4]. If you suspect tick paralysis in your dog, see your veterinarian immediately, because left untreated, tick paralysis may be fatal.

How to protect your dog from the Gulf Coast tick

After spending time outdoors, always check your dog for ticks. Every area of the United States has ticks, so it’s important to keep a close watch even if you live beyond the Gulf Coast region.

Next, you’ll want to be able to recognize the Gulf Coast tick. Learn how to identify the Gulf Coast tick with this guide.

It’s important to note that not all tick and flea products protect dogs from the Gulf Coast tick. 80% of dog owners surveyed believe their dog’s tick and flea product protects against the Gulf Coast tick, but that may not be true[1]. Therefore, it’s crucial that you choose a product that does. Ask your veterinarian about the only tick and flea chewable that is FDA approved to kill the Gulf Coast tick.

Georgette Wilson, DVM

Georgette Wilson, DVM

Born and raised in New York City, Dr. Georgette Wilson received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and DVM from Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine in Ithaca, NY. Dr. Wilson completed a one-year small animal internship at the University of Tennessee. She practiced in the greater New York City area for 11 years prior to entering the veterinary pharmaceutical industry. Dr. Wilson is currently the Zoetis Petcare HQ Medical Lead for the Diagnostics Rapids Tests. In her spare time, Dr. Wilson enjoys travel with her family.

  1. Online survey conducted by Zoetis Petcare, a U.S. business unit of Zoetis, and Wakefield Research between January 3 and January 18, 2019. Data on file.
  2. Hertz, J. C., & Kaufman, P. E. “Gulf Coast Tick, Amblyomma maculatum Koch.” 2007. University of Florida [PDF File]. Retrieved from https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/IN/IN106200.pdf
  3. Geographic distribution of ticks that bite humans. CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/geographic_distribution.html. Accessed April 15, 2019.
  4. Symptoms: Companion Vector-Borne Diseases. Tick Paralysis. http://www.cvbd.org/en/tick-borne-diseases/tick-paralysis/clinical-signs/. Accessed April 15, 2019.