Over the last few years, ticks have migrated across the country and their numbers are increasing. Ticks pose a true health threat to people and pets across the country at this point. Ticks are not only lurking during the warm summertime months but are also being found as the temperatures become colder.
Ticks are external parasites that feed on the blood of pets and people that happen to pass by whatever branch, tree or shrub they are living on. The brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) and the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis), are examples of ticks that commonly affect dogs. Note that the deer tick is also quite common.
How Are Ticks Transmitted to Dogs?
Ticks are most active from spring through fall and live in tall brush and grass, where they often drop off onto pets and people passing by their turf. Ticks just drop off brush for example and land on your dog and/or you. These parasites prefer to stay close to the head, neck and ears. In severe infestations, however, they can be found anywhere on your dog’s body.
How Do I Know if My Dog Has Ticks?
Most ticks are visible to the naked eye. During the warmer months, it’s a good idea to check your dog regularly, at least twice a day. This veterinarian and author suggest running your hands along your pet s body each morning and evening just to be sure they are tick free. If you do spot a tick, it is important to remove it promptly and carefully. Any contact with the tick’s blood can potentially transmit infection to your dog or even you! Treat the area with rubbing alcohol and pluck the parasite with tweezers, making sure you’ve gotten the biting head and other body parts. It takes 24-36 hours for attached ticks to transmit disease so checking pets carefully each morning and evening helps to ensure your canine is tick free.
Are Certain Canines Prone to Dog Ticks?
Today, ticks may be found worldwide. In past years, dogs living in warm climates and certain wooded areas of the Northeast, were at highest risk. Today canines from coast to coast are all at risk which is why prevention is KEY! Note that canines with full, thick haircoats may be targets as ticks embed in your dog’s fur and are easily missed.
What Are Some Complications Associated with Dog Ticks?
Blood loss, anemia, tick paralysis, skin irritation, kidney failure, liver disease, and arthritis.
Ticks can transmit 10 different diseases including Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Anaplasmosis all of which can cause serious complications and are potentially fatal without prompt, proper treatment. Note that these diseases are also transmittable to humans.
The problem in most cases is that the onset of disease is insidious and is often missed. Ticks can lay dormant in your dog’s body for years, then initiate serious disease(s) at a later time.
My Dog Has Been Bitten by a Tick! What Should I Do?
Remove the tick, and consult with your veterinarian, who will help you to prevent future infestations.
How Can Dogs be Protected from Ticks?
There are various prescription products available through your veterinarian to prevent your dog from getting ticks. Nexgard is a monthly chewable that prevents fleas and ticks. It is effective although can cause complications in some dogs especially canines prone to and/or suffering with epileptic convulsions.
Certain “natural” over the counter products are also helpful in tick prevention. Pet products containing synthetic geranium oil, called geraniol have proven to be effective.
What are other Preventative measures Pet Owners can do to help Protect their Dogs from Ticks?
Keep your grass and shrubs trimmed well. Pet owners living near the woods, and/or in heavily wooded areas may consult with their local garden supply experts regarding outside products effective to help repel ticks.