As the spring or summer months settle in, pet parents have quite the thing to be worried about – dog ticks. These small blood-sucking insects can make any dog quite irritable, and they suck off quite a bit of blood. Not only do ticks feast on your dog’s blood, but they also transmit a variety of diseases. Certain ticks are also known to transmit diseases to humans. How to identify a tick on a dog and remedy it is one of the things that every dog owner should know. With that, let us go ahead to see what dog ticks are, how you can identify and cure your dog.
What are dog ticks?
If you have had a pet for a while, chances are you have already had an encounter with ticks. These eight-legged insects come with highly functional mouths, which allows them to pierce your pet’s skin and feed on its blood. Ticks can be of different colors like yellow, black, grey, reddish-brown, or just brown. Their main food source is blood, which they need to survive and lay eggs. The eggs given by ticks further grow in larvae, then into nymphs, which finally become an adult tick.
A tick egg is around the same size as a sand grain, the nymph-like that of a sesame seed while the size of an unfed tick is around that of an apple seed. After a tick feeds on blood, it increases in size, and any fully fed female tick can grow as much as a grape in size. With so much variety in color and type, it is important to protect your dog from all of them.
What harm can a tick cause to my dog?
Ticks bite the animal and feed on blood, and once they have enough, they fly off. Often this could go on for several days. This makes ticks very good at spreading infections from one animal to another. Some ticks can even transmit a disease-causing microbe in as less as 3 hours. This makes ticks an extremely dangerous insect for your dog, and you should take all measures to prevent your dog from tick bites.
This is one of the most common infections that spread through ticks. It is a bacterial infection. Dogs with Lyme Disease have a loss of appetite, fever, joint pain and swelling, loss of appetite, and even swelling in their lymph nodes. Lyme disease will require treatment by a vet and involve a course of antibiotics.
Babesiosis is a rare disease that causes depression, fever, abdomen swelling, and paleness in your dog’s gums. This can be quite dangerous if not diagnosed and treated early on. If you see any such symptoms in your dog after walking in an area that has a tick infestation, get in touch with your vet for getting it checked.
Common tick-borne diseases
While Lyme Disease and Babesiosis are just 2 of the tick-borne diseases, there are many others as well. The more you know about these, the better will you be able to spot signs of a tick infestation on your dog. Here is a short summary of diseases that ticks can give your dog, what signs to look out for, and the species that can transmit them.
Type(s) of tick that transmits it
The bacterial infection starts from fever and can even cause heart and kidney disease
Lameness, fatigue, fever, lethargy.
As less as 24 hours
Blood infection that affects blood cell count
Anaemia, fever and lethargy.
4 hours (minimum) or more
Brown Dog Tick, Deer Tick
Blood infection that leads to illness
Fever, bleeding disorders, loss in weight, immune disorders, and anemia
3 hours or more
Brown Dog Tick, American Dog Tick, Lone Star Tick
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Infection that leads to illness a few weeks post tick bite. Fatal if not treated
Bleeding disorders, high fever, stiffness, lethargy, swelling in lymph nodes
~ 4 hours or more
Brown Dog Tick, Lone Star Tick, American Dog Tick
Tick-Borne Diseases: A Quick Reference
How to spot ticks on your dog?
Knowing how to identify a tick on a dog is essential for any pet parent. Ticks can be almost anywhere, especially outdoors. Common places where ticks fester include bushes, leaf litter, and shrubs. These are also prevalent in non-wooded areas. Ticks cannot fly, but ‘quest,’ which involves stretching the forelegs to cling on any passing animal. Therefore after every visit outside with your dog, checking it for ticks should be done.
Any small bumps that you feel on your dog’s fur need a further examination. Spotting ticks like this may not be the easiest task. However, there are special kits and combs that you can get to find and remove ticks on your dog. Products like the TickCheck Remover Kit are ideal for such purposes, and a must-have for pet parents. Thus, you should have this to remove ticks from your dog, especially when going outdoors for longer periods. Here are a few other signs to look out for that may indicate ticks on your dog.
Finding Ticks Inside Your House
If you find a tick anywhere in your home, such as the carpet or in bed sheets or on the floor, then it means a family member or even your dog could have carried it in. Thus, in such a case, you must examine its fur more closely.
Excess Head Shaking
Ticks are attracted to environments that have high moisture, which is why they are around a dog’s ears in most cases. If you see your dog shaking its head too much, then check its head and the insides of ears for ticks.
A scab can form if your pet’s licking or scratching removes the tick from its skin. If you see any unexplained scab on its skin, examine your dog further for signs of ticks.
Signs of a tick bite
If you notice your dog showing any of the symptoms discussed above like fever or lack of appetite, then it could be a tick-borne illness. Any unnoticed symptoms should be examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Ticks will generally lead to irritation and itching with your dog. If you notice it is scratching behind its ear frequently, then it may be due to ticks.
Protecting your dog from ticks
Considering how harmful tick bites can be and how tough it is to spot them, prevention is surely the key here. Keeping your dog safe from ticks is one of your biggest responsibilities. Some of the best ways that you can use to keep your dog safe from ticks are up ahead.
There are many over the counter methods available to protect dogs from ticks. Products such as Vet’s Best Flea and Tick Home Spray can be sprayed on your dog’s skin to kill any ticks and their eggs. These are also natural and soothing on its skin and offer protection from fleas and mosquitos as well. However, such a product is only safe to use for puppies and dogs that are older than 12 weeks. Also, you should be careful about any kids coming into contact with your dog after applying these medications as it may be harmful to them.
There are many pills available that you can give your dog once a month to protect from fleas. These medications work by killing ticks and any immature fleas on your dog. They disrupt a tick’s life cycle and kill the remaining ones. Also, with such medications, you do not have to worry about any kids being in contact with the dog.
Use the right medicated shampoos
There are many medicated shampoos that you can get online and in pet stores that help get rid of ticks. These shampoos, such as the Adams Plus Flea and Tick Shampoo kill ticks on coming in contact with them. These are not too expensive and can be highly effective. Using medicated shampoos is something that can be done every two weeks, especially in peak tick season.
These are a highly effective prevention method. Tick collars stay in contact with the dog’s skin and transfer chemicals on its fur and skin that repel ticks. However, with tick collars, you need to observe your dog for any signs of allergy like irritation or itching. Tick collars are most effective in protecting the head and neck from ticks.
One of the most common home remedies for dog ticks are powders. These are very fine powders that can be applied to a dog’s fur to get rid of ticks. You must be careful while using them to avoid the powder going near the eyes or nose, as it can cause irritation. Tick powders require application at least once a week at peak seasons to be effective. You can also use tick powders in areas that your dog frequents and in its bed.
Tick sprays are beneficial and are for use between shampoos and other treatment methods. You can use tick sprays while taking your dog out in areas where the risk of catching ticks is higher. Avoid using tick sprays around the face and nose as it can lead to irritation. In addition, the residual spray helps to repel ticks after the immediate application kills them.
What you can do to minimize chances of a tick bite
While some methods like using tick collars and sprays can help repel ticks, that’s not all. There are a few additional steps that you can take to minimize the chances of your dog getting bitten by ticks. Here are some effective practices for that.
Treating your lawn and house
Your lawn, as well as any trees and bushes around it, must be trimmed. This will reduce the number of ticks and fleas in your backyard. Having fewer places for these parasites to survive and breed will be one less problem for you to worry about. Along with that, you can also make use of granular treatments such as yard sprays to control tick growth. These sprays are available at any garden center or pet store around you. It is important to be careful while using such products as they can harm animals if directly inhaled by them. In case the problem does not come under control, you must get an exterminator for better treatment.
Regularly checking your pets
After every visit outside with your pets, especially in areas where there is a lot of tree and bush growth, check for ticks. Common areas where ticks hide on animals include in the ears, around the necks, and between their legs. Ticks can hide deep inside the fur, so you may need to check thoroughly. If you find a tick before it attaches to your pet’s skin and engorges, you may have just prevented a serious infection. If the tick is attached, immediate removal is necessary. If you have never removed a tick before, there are several videos on tick removal from dogs that you can use to learn.
Keeping your dog indoor
While physical activity is important for any pet, keeping it outside your prolonged period during tick season increases the chances of an infection. Ensure that your dog does not spend too much time roaming in wooded areas that have a high population of ticks. After every outing, a thorough inspection of your dog must be done. A few ticks may be around in your yard too, which is why you need to check for ticks to prevent any type of infection regularly.
Ticks can make your dog’s life quite tough and have to be treated early. Apart from spreading infection in dogs, ticks can affect humans too. With dog ticks, prevention is better than cure. A few simple steps and a tick check regularly can ensure that your canine friend does not have to go through the discomfort and illnesses that ticks cause.