Adult brown dog ticks are reddish-brown and lack any easily noticeable markings that are found on many other tick species. Adults that have not taken a blood meal are about 1/8-inch long. Blood-fed females are about a ½-inch long and have a blue-gray coloration. Males are smaller than females, but are colored very similarly.
Brown dog ticks are three-host ticks. This means they occur on a different host at each of its three active life stages (larva, nymph and adult). However, a brown dog tick can live off one host for its entire life, if survival requires it. Additionally, the brown dog tick can complete its entire life cycle indoors, unlike most other species of tick.
Brown dog ticks may be potential vectors of Rocky Mountain spotted fever but are not known to transmit Lyme disease. They may also transmit canine ehrlichiosis and babesiosis to dogs. In the event of an infestation severe enough to require pesticides, homeowners are advised to contact their local pest control professionals. In order to reduce or control indoor brown dog tick infestations, the affected home must be thoroughly cleaned.