Ticks are nasty little critters, but if you’ve ever owned a dog, you’ll know that they’re also hard to avoid. While your pet may not be infested with them, there is bound to be one point in their life where they’ll pick at least one up, and so here’s everything you need to know about ticks for when that time comes:
Ticks and fleas:
Fleas are insects and ticks are arachnids, making them completely different, but most ticks look similar apart from slight differences in coloration and body size.
What do ticks feed on?
The diet of ticks is made up entirely of blood, and their specialized appendages make it easy for them to attach to a host – such as a dog – and feed by sucking the blood. Ticks are unable to jump like fleas, and so instead wait until they can climb onto a passing host from grass or shrubs.
The life stage of a tick:
Ticks begin life as eggs and grow into adult bugs. When at their youngest, the nymph tick is small and looks completely different from the adults who have gotten fat and swollen from feeding on the blood of the host. This can make it easy for folks to believe that their pet is infested with two different types of tick, when in fact they are the same but at different stages in their lifecycle.
What diseases can ticks spread?
Ticks can be the carriers of some unpleasant diseases, a few of which can be transferred to humans and a small number of which can be potentially life-threatening. Some of the more common diseases that ticks can carry are Lyme Disease, Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis, Hepatozoonosis, Rocky Mountain Fever, Anaplasmosis, Tularemia and Tick Paralysis.
How might you know if your dog has ticks?
Spotting ticks on your pet before they have a chance to latch on and begin sucking blood, is the best way of keeping them at bay, while of course prevention is better than cure. There are some common indicators that your dog may have a tick problem, and they include:
- Chewing or nibbling at a spot on their body
- Scratching their ears and shaking their head
- Development of a sudden fever
- Rashes on the skin and/or scabs
What can you do to prevent a tick infestation?
Vector-borne diseases are easily preventable with quick treatment that is regularly updated, such as applying a spot-on treatment and by ensuring that any areas your pet is in contact with, are kept clean and tick free. Pesticides that will not cause harm to your dog can be used on lawns or shrubberies to deter ticks, and avoid overwatering wherever possible, as ticks thrive in damp and humid conditions. Regular bathing with a medicated shampoo may also help and will not only keep your dogs’ coat clean but will repel ticks and fleas. You may also consider having your pet wear a tick collar, some of which are successful in repelling ticks for as long as six months.
Tick infestations are horrible for both pet and owner, but provided you groom your pet regularly and pay close attention to the warning signs, they are simple to prevent.