PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - If you’re heading out on hiking trails or even enjoying a backyard barbecue with your dogs this weekend, remember: It’s the height of tick season and that can mean serious diseases for both you and your furry friend.

While ticks are a year-round concern in Oregon, cases of tick-related diseases tend to spike in the spring and summer months as more people head outside.

It’s something Dr. Mark Norman talks with his patients about on a daily basis at the Bethany Family Pet Clinic in the Beaverton area.

“The deer tick is of special concern in Oregon,” he explained. “That tick is very common in the areas west of the Cascades, in the Columbia Gorge and in southern Oregon.”

But he says ticks are also popping up in urban backyards, so prevention is key for every dog owner, whether you go hiking or not.

He says the type of tick we see locally can spread three diseases: Lyme disease, anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis, which can cause serious health issues.

“I have [found ticks] on this guy,” Nathan Russell told FOX 12, pointing to his dog at a trail head in the Gorge. “He might run slightly off the trail and you’ve got to go through his fur and check, and sometimes, you’ll find them in there, but luckily, I haven’t ever found any on his skin.”

Norman showed FOX 12 a vial with ticks in two life stages: adults, which are roughly the size of a pencil eraser, and nymphs, which are smaller than a sesame seed.

“So on our pets it’s hard to see those, and they can transmit disease just as readily as the adults,” he explained.

The best protection, he says, is prevention.

There are pills and topical medications that can protect your dog for up to three months in a single dose. They cost roughly $20 a month – much less than you’ll pay to treat a tick-related disease.

Cats are susceptible too, although they’re not generally taken out into wooded or forested areas, so it’s much less of a risk for them.

Even if you don’t see any ticks, or just welcomed a new animal into your family, your vet may be able to run tests to check for any tick-related diseases.

If you have any questions, contact your local veterinarian.

Copyright 2019 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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