As a pet owner, you should be aware of what a tick is, what to look for, and most importantly, how to safely and effectively remove a tick.
Ticks come in many forms and exist all across the nation. Depending on your location, ticks can be lively during any season, however, ticks start to slow down when the temperature drops below freezing in the fall. Dormant ticks usually begin searching for food when the weather warms up in mid-March to April.
Adult ticks have eight legs and are about the size of a ladybug. They feed on the blood of all kinds of animals, from birds to deer to humans. They are challenging to see, especially in dogs with long or dark hair, so they can bite and spread diseases before pet owners even notice.
Ticks are found in wooded areas with shrubs, tall grasses, and weeds. These places are convenient for ticks to find animals walking by, including your dog. In addition, ticks may also live in overgrown patches in backyards, wood piles, and even bird feeders. When “questing” for a new host, they will let go of the vegetation and climb onto the host. Ticks cannot jump or fly, but may crawl hundreds of times their body length to find a host.
Unlike fleas, tick bites do not usually irritate dogs, so dogs typically do not let us know when they have one. This is why daily checks are essential. As soon as your dog comes into the house, check their entire body thoroughly. Focus especially around their ears, eyelids, under their collar, between the front and back legs, between their toes, and around the tail. Part their fur with your hands looking for ticks. Keep in mind that even if you do miss a tick that has arrived on your dog, ticks usually do not cause long term health problems for dogs and humans. They will detach after they are done feeding and leave a bite that can be inflamed and scabby. This mark will take up to two weeks to heal, even if you correctly remove the tick, but is usually not a cause for concern.
As soon as you find a tick, you should remove it. There are many folk remedies about using petroleum jelly or touching the tick with a hot match to make the tick release. These methods only make it harder to remove the tick and can even harm your dog. Instead, follow these steps to safely remove a tick from your four-legged friend:
If your dog develops a fever, rash, or other symptoms over the next few weeks to months, see a veterinarian for treatment.
For both dogs and people, tick bites usually aren’t more than a nuisance. Ticks can impact your dog's well-being in three ways. Take note that these scenarios do not happen with every tick bite, but can be severe when they do occur.
Dogs who frequently go outside in areas with heavy tick populations are prone to getting ticks and tick bites. Provide veterinarian-approved flea and tick medication to your dog. Be aware that many over-the-counter products on the market have harmful ingredients, especially if you also have cats in your home. These chemicals can cause pyrethroid and organophosphate toxicoses. The most reliable and safest source for information regarding ticks comes from a veterinarian.
A vaccine is available for Lyme disease, but it does not prevent ticks from biting your dogs. Prevent ticks in your yard by clearing brush and plant debris, mowing lawns, and treating the yard with a vet-approved repellent. Also, check your dog frequently and remove ticks as soon as you find them. Ticks do not transmit diseases immediately after attaching.
Contact with ticks is bound to happen in a dog's life. So, if you have more questions or concerns regarding tick bites or tick-borne diseases in dogs, book an online appointment at Vetster.com to get all your answers today!
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