Ticks are parasitic creatures that belong in the arachnid family. They may be small, but ticks on dogs can cause major problems. Dog ticks can transmit diseases, cause paralysis, Lyme disease, anaemia and other diseases. Ticks are considered parasites because they will feed on their host’s blood. Ticks on dogs will not detach themselves from their host until they are finished feeding, which can be days long. They can live for a few years and females can lay hundreds, even thousands of eggs at one time.
Dog ticks are very adaptable and can be very difficult to control. There are more than 800 types of ticks known worldwide, but there are only several in North America that cause problems for animals and humans. These are the deer tick, lone star tick, American dog dick and the brown dog tick. The deer tick is known to carry the Lyme disease bacterium more than any other type of tick.
The tick will inject its infected saliva into your dog’s bloodstream when it is feeding, and this can cause illness. Not all ticks carry diseases, but it is still very important to get rid of ticks as soon as possible if you spot one.
Symptoms to look for
If you live in an area that is prone to ticks, or your dog has recently been in grassy areas, it is important to look for ticks. Ticks come in a variety of species, but the most dangerous to dogs is the deer tick. Ticks can carry diseases such as Lyme disease, spotted fever, ehrlichiosis and more. Keep an eye out for the following symptoms of ticks on dogs.
Fever - When your dog has been bit by an infected tick, he will likely get a fever. It will usually rise very quickly. Look for panting, shaking, increased heart rate, warm body temperature and signs of distress or discomfort.
Sore limbs - Tick infections can actually lead to paralysis and arthritis. If you notice your dog limping, or that his body seems stiff, it could be a sign of ticks. Look for an arched back or whimpering when doing simple activities such as climbing stairs or jumping up on the couch.
Skin infections - Ticks can cause severe itching in dogs. If your dog is scratching at a particular area a lot, look for redness and swelling on the skin. You may even be able to see the tick on the skin in this area. Some dogs are allergic to ticks, which can make the skin very itchy and in turn cause sores known as hot spots.
Loss of appetite - If your dog has no interest in his food, or his treats, this may be a sign of illness. If loss of appetite is associated with any other of the previous symptoms, it could be a good chance that your dog has a tick infection.
Weakness - If you notice your dog has lost energy or interest in activity, it could be a sign that something is wrong. Keep an eye out for other symptoms associated with lethargy or change in mood.
Symptoms of ticks on dogs may not show for a few days, and may last for weeks. Always take your dog to the vet for diagnosis and treatment as soon as you notice a change in your dog’s behaviour and if any symptoms are present.
Preventing ticks on dogs
The best way to protect your dog from illnesses caused by ticks is to simply prevent them altogether. This may be a bit of a task, but a good eye and extra protection during high tick months may save your dog from a lot of pain and serious illness. It is known that high tick seasons are in the spring and summer months, from about April to September. Keep these tips in mind when preventing ticks on dogs.
- Keep out of woodsy areas when walking or exercising. Stick to mowed pathways or dirt roads. Even better, stick to neighborhoods and roads if you are concerned about ticks.
- Always check your dog after walking or visiting dog parks. Groom his fur with your hands or with a fine-toothed comb if you are concerned about ticks.
- Keep your lawn clear of grass piles and wood piles. Keep your yard well-groomed by regularly mowing and clearing out leaves and weeds.
- You can use outdoor pesticides to ward off ticks. Be sure that these are safe for your dog.
- You can directly apply tick prevention products to your dog. Some are topical treatments that are applied once a month to ward off ticks. Some are tick collars that release a scent to protect your dog from ticks as well. Talk to your veterinarian about these options.
For more information about ticks on dogs, Lyme disease and how to remove a tick, visit www.lymediseasedogs.net