What You Need To Know About Ticks On Dogs
Tick season has arrived, so be sure you take the necessary steps to prevent your furry pal from getting bit! They may be small, but they can pose a large threat should they sink their teeth into you or your dog. Take the time to educate yourself on the various types of ticks, symptoms, and tick prevention methods. And it wouldn't hurt to take a peek at the CanLyme website, which in detail, discusses the various ticks found in Canada. The mentioned ticks are also commonly found in the United States.
What Are Ticks?
Ticks are small insects that live by feeding on the blood of birds, mammals, and sometimes reptiles and amphibians. Ticks can be found all around the world, especially in warmer, humid climates.
Because ticks feed on blood, they carry and transmit a minimum of at least 12 different diseases that can directly affect humans and other animals. Tick prevention is an excellent way to keep your furry friends safe, especially during those warmer months. If you are from a country with climate change, it would be early spring to fall.
Where Will They Hide?
Ticks can usually be found in tall grass, wooded areas, and plants. And they can jump from dog to dog if your pal happens to be friendly with an infected friend.
How They Infect
Once a tick finds a host, they attach themselves by way of mouth. They prefer a warm/moist area so that they will migrate to a desirable location, typically the head, neck, feet, and around the ears. However, they can be found anywhere on your dog's body so be cautious. The tick will then bite their target and begin to draw blood. A tick will not release until they have consumed a full amount and depending on the type of tick, they can remain attached for hours, days, or even weeks.
You always want to catch the tick before they detach themselves, that way you can do the necessary testing on your dog, ensuring they haven't contracted an illness.
The most common ticks found in North America are the: American Dog Tick, Brown Dog Tick, Deer Tick, and Lone Star Tick.
Various Symptoms For Most Tick-Born Diseases:
- Tick Paralysis
- Loss Of Appetite
- Swollen Joints
- Bloody Nose
- Pale Gums
- Kidney Failure
- Permanent Blindness
The above symptoms vary based on the disease the infected tick is carrying. In North America ticks most commonly transmit the following diseases:
How To Remove a Tick From Your Dog
You can do one of two things: bring your dog directly to your vet, or remove the tick yourself.
To remove the tick yourself, you would do as follows:
Step 1: Necessary Materials
Gather the necessary materials, a tick twister (shown below) or a pair of tweezers (if a twister is unavailable), rubbing alcohol, and a pair of gloves (if handy). You never want to touch the tick with your bare hands in case it is infected. Tweezers aren't ideal as they can severe the tick leaving a portion of it inside of your dog. Use them as a last resource. It's always good to keep a pair of tick twisters in your home as a precaution. They are preferred and very affordable. Click the image below to find out more.
Step 2: Removal
Using a Tick Twister:
- Carefully and gently press the tick twister onto your dog's skin, near the tick.
- Slip the notch of the twister under the tick's body and gently lift/twist it out.
- Without using pressure, gently grasp the skin surrounding the tick to make it more visible.
- Without using the sharp edges of the tweezers, grab the tick and slowly pull it out straight. Try not to break it in half as your dog can get an infection should the head remain left in. However, if the tick is not infected your dog's body will absorb the ticks head over time. If it's close to the surface, you may be able to pry it out as you would a splinter.
Should the head remain in your dog, I do recommend getting the rest of the tick tested for peace of mind.
Step 3: After Care
Once the tick is removed, bottle it in alcohol. This will ensure that it dies. And should you wish to have the tick tested by your vet, the alcohol will help preserve it for testing.
Using antiseptic, clean your dog's wound and over the course of several days monitor it to make sure it isn't inflamed or irritated. Also, keep a close eye on your dog to make sure tick like symptoms don't present themselves. If so, be sure to take your dog in for a vet check.
Thoroughly check your dog's entire body for remaining ticks, it isn't uncommon to have more than one attached.
Step 4: Prevention
It's time to think about tick prevention medication. Your local veterinarian will have a variety of medications they can prescribe that can help prevent tick bites. Continue reading for information on traditional forms of tick prevention.
Tick Prevention Medication:
Many medications on the market are coupled with flea and heartworm prevention, a one-stop shop if you will. However, there are vet recommended medications that will treat ticks specifically if that's what you prefer.
Below are some of the more popular medications currently on the market in North America:
K9 Advantix II for Dogs - Kills fleas and ticks within 12 hours, flea eggs, pupae, larvae, and adults for 30 days, and protects against mosquitoes, which are the cause of heartworm. This is a topical application which is applied monthly. *NOTE* If you have cats in the household, they MUST NOT come into contact with the treated dog for 24 hours after Advantix has been applied, as it can cause illness to the cat. If you have cats in your household, this may not be the treatment for you.
Revolution for Dogs - Kills fleas, and controls Tick infestations. It is a once a month topical application to prevent internal and external parasites which include heartworm prevention as well. Revolution also treats and controls ear mites and sarcoptic mange.
Frontline Plus For Dogs - Kills ticks and begins working within 24 hours. Also prevents all flea stages (including eggs, larvae, and pupae) from developing. The medication is waterproof and protects your dog for 30 days. It protects against Lyme Disease, And Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Frontline Plus is a topical application.
Bravecto - Kills fleas and ticks for 12 weeks and begins working within hours. Optional chew or topical dosage. Bravecto Chew is well tolerated and palatable, making treatment less stressful for the dog and pet owner, they are pork flavored. Bravecto is approved for pregnant, breeding, and lactating dogs. Available by prescription only.
Before selecting a treatment, be sure to discuss which method is best for your dog with your veterinarian. Each dog is unique and may react differently to the specific ingredients found in each type of medication. Always do your research before using a preventative treatment.