It is not unusual for dogs to pick up a tick or two. After all, ticks live outside where dogs use the bathroom, walk and play. Ticks transmit several diseases and infestations must be prevented. Here is the down and dirty on these tiny arachnids.
What Are Ticks?
Ticks are not insects. Instead, they are arachnids, like spiders and mites. The brown dog tick, the deer tick and the American dog tick are the ticks most commonly found hitching a ride on pet canines.
Where Are Ticks Most Common?
Ticks are most prevalent in hot, moist climates. States that experience snow in the winter get a respite from the creatures. States that are hot and dry throughout the year are inhospitable to the arachnids. Typically, the states with the highest populations of ticks are located in the Midwest. States like Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky have perfect climates to support ticks through spring, summer and fall.
The Problems Ticks Cause
Ticks are carriers of several diseases. Among these are Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Any of these diseases, left untreated, can be fatal to dogs. Because of their blood sucking tendencies, ticks can also cause a dog to become anemic. When a dog has a heavy load of ticks that are actively feeding, the amount of blood loss can cause anemia or a lowering of the iron in the blood. This condition can ultimately be fatal.
What to Do When You Find a Tick on Your Dog
If you find a tick on your dog, remove it carefully. If the tick has started to feed on your dog, it will have buried its head in your dog’s skin. Carefully grip the tick with tweezers as close to your dog’s skin as possible. Remove the tick by gently twisting and pulling on the tweezers. Place the tick in a small amount of rubbing alcohol to kill it. When you have removed the tick, check to be sure that the head is still attached to the body.
A tick head that remains in your dog’s skin can decompose and cause an infection. If you have not completely removed the head, take your dog to the veterinarian for assistance in removing the embedded head.
How to Prevent Ticks
There are several products on the market that you can use to prevent ticks from attaching to your dog. Your veterinarian will help you choose the best tick prevention for your animal and your location. You may choose between oral and topical preventives that are administered to your pet every 30 days.
In addition to giving your dog a monthly tick preventive, make your yard less inviting to these tiny arachnids. Keep your lawn mowed, remove any piles of leaves and other lawn debris, and keep your garbage cans closed to prevent tick-carrying rodents from moving in. If you hunt, walk, or hike with your dog, run your hands through its fur when you return home. Pay close attention to the armpits, groin and ears. Ticks love to attach themselves to the warm, moist areas of your pet.
Tick prevention is not difficult to accomplish. By keeping your dog on a monthly preventive, inspecting its body regularly, and keeping your yard free of debris, you can prevent a tick infestation on your pet. If you believe that your dog has been bitten by a tick, consult your veterinarian (at St Francis Animal Clinic PA or another practice) who can perform a blood test for tick-borne diseases.