Are Bloodsuckers Hitching a Ride on Your Hound!

Your Complete Lowdown on Dog Ticks 

Ticks are really nasty. They can cause your furry friend to suffer from a wide range of health issues some of which are serious. We want to give you the complete lowdown on ticks here so that you can protect your pooch from these bloodsuckers. 

What are Ticks? 

Many people think that ticks and fleas are the same but they are different. Ticks are arachnids and fleas are insects. They are not from the same family. They are both parasites though and love nothing more than getting their next meal from your beloved pet! 

Ticks are most active from March to October, but as we get out and about more with our four-legged friends in the summer months, we tend to see more issues arise during that period.  

As ticks are at risk of drying out, they prefer moist and humid environments and live in grass, bushes, shrubs and foliage. Ticks will rest on the tips of grasses and shrubs, waiting for a host. When a host brushes past, the tick will climb onto them and attach themselves quickly. 

What do ticks look like? 

Many people, especially new first-time dog owners, often mistake a tick on a dog’s skin for a simple skin tag or mole… but they soon learn! 

There are different species of ticks and if you believe that your furry friend has them you need to identify what species they are so you can understand the health risks that they pose. The anatomy of all ticks is similar but there are distinguishing features such as body size and coloration. Ticks vary in shape, colour and size but they have a flattened oval shaped body before feeding and a plump, rounded body once fed. 

When unfed, the creatures are the size of a sesame seed. They will then grow to the size of a coffee bean when engorged with their host’s blood. 

Different Types of Tick in the United States 

A fact that you need to face is that ticks are everywhere. There is no place to hide from them. In the United States there are five common species of ticks: 

1. The Brown Dog Tick – these are also known as “kennel ticks” and are everywhere in the US. They do not have to live on your pooch to live and populate which makes them harder to find and get rid of. 

2. The American Dog Tick – also known as “wood ticks” these tend to live in more humid places but can be found almost anywhere on the Eastern side of the country and in California. They have white specs on their backs. 

3. The Lone Star Tick – this tick has a white spot on its back hence the name. They like to live in wooded locations usually where there is a natural water source. Lone Star ticks usually reside in the Eastern part of the US.  

4. The Black Legged Tick – also known as “deer ticks” these are similar in appearance to Brown Dog Ticks. They have a uniform brown red coloring. 

5. The Gulf Coast Tick – as the name suggests these live in the Gulf Coast regions and some Atlantic coastal regions.  

What is the Risk? 

Not only will ticks suck on the blood of your furry friend but they can transmit some horrible diseases. Some of these diseases can even spread to humans. It is essential that you protect your pooch from ticks as they can cause all kinds of health issues from a skin rash to a life threatening disease. 

Here are some of the diseases that ticks can transmit to your dog: 

  • Lyme Disease 
  • Tick Paralysis 
  • Ehrlichiosis 
  • Haemobartonellosis 
  • Babesiosis 
  • Tularemia 
  • Hepatozoonosis 
  • Anaplasmosis 
  • Rocky Mountain Fever 

Different tick species can cause different illnesses. Here is a breakdown by common species found in the United States: 

Brown Dog Tick  

  • Anaplasmosis 
  • Babesiosis 
  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Haemobartonellosis
  • Hepatozoonosis 
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever 

American Dog Tick 

  • Cytauxzoonosis 
  • Ehrlichiosis 
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever 
  • Tick Paralysis 
  • Tularemia 

Lone Star Tick 

  • Ehrlichiosis 
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever 
  • Tick Paralysis 
  • Tularemia 

Black Legged Tick 

  • Anaplasmosis 
  • Lyme Disease 
  • Tick Paralysis 

Gulf Coast Tick 

  • Hepatozoonosis 

What are the Signs that your Furry Friend has Ticks? 

You need to be proactive to keep your beloved pet safe from ticks. By acting quickly and detecting the problem fast, you can prevent your beloved pet from experiencing serious problems. So here are some of the signs to look for: 

  • Your dog shakes their head a lot and / or scratches their ear excessively 
  • Scabs appear on their skin or they develop a skin rash 
  • They keep nibbling at specific areas of their body 
  • When you run your hands over their fur you can feel tiny bumps on skin 
  • Your furry friend suddenly gets a fever 

Noticing any of these common signs can help prevent a serious tick infestation.  

How to Prevent Tick Problems for your Pooch 

It is far better to prevent a tick problem than it is to tackle the problem once it has happened. Ticks cling on to vegetation and leaves just waiting for your furry friend to brush past so that they can climb aboard. So here are some good preventative measures to guard against ticks: 

1) Grooming 

Regular grooming and checking your pet DAILY for ticks is a must. Use your hands to search your dog’s coat, especially in hidden places, such as under the collar, under the tail, between the toes and in the ears. 

You will also find a number of tick shampoos and sprays available for your furry friend. Use the shampoo to bathe your dog and the spray to provide a barrier for ticks. These products are safe for your dog as they usually contain natural ingredients such as peppermint oil and tea tree oil.   

 2) Your Backyard and your Home 

By taking measures to prevent ticks to survive in your backyard or your home you will significantly reduce the risk of infestations. It is not uncommon to find ticks hiding in backyards. They can travel there on other animals such as rodents, so we recommend that you do the following: 

  • Keep your home and backyard as dry as you can as ticks prefer moist and humid environments a lot more than dry ones 

 3) Find out when the Tick Season is in your State 

If you live in a state that is warm all year round then ticks can be a problem all of the time. For other states that have seasons with temperature rises and falls you need to find out when ticks are most likely to be around, so that you can take even more precautions to protect your furry friend. 

What to Do if you Find a Tick 

If you find a tick on your dog’s (or even on your own) skin you should use fine-tipped tweezers or a tick-removal tool to remove it. 

Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and slowly pull upwards, taking care not to squeeze or crush the tick. It is really important to ensure you get the mouth part out; If left behind it can cause an infection 

Once you have removed the tick you need to clean the bite with antiseptic or soap and water. 

If you don’t feel confident enough to remove the ticks safely or your pet has more than you can handle, then talk to your veterinarian for advice. They will perform a physical examination and may also recommend that your pooch undergo PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and serology tests to see if they have any tick-borne diseases.  

If your vet diagnoses that your dog has ticks then they will prescribe the correct medication to treat the problem before any severe symptoms start appearing. 

 

Wishing you and your canine companions a happy, healthy and tick-free time! 

 

 

 

Helen Broadley & The FidoActive Team 

 

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