Hold on! The tick season is already here.
Is your dog ready for it?
When I used to work at the vet clinic the most common issue was with ticks and fleas.
This topic never gets old, because the question ‘what is the best way how to protect your dog from ticks’ is important and has to be always up to date.
Are you already enjoying the nice weather at the park, or hiking in the forests, or simply playing with your dog in your garden? Ticks are everywhere. You don’t have to go far from your house to get your first tick to lurk on your dog’s fur.
The best thing to do is to be ready as soon as it gets warmer.
1. Which ticks are dangerous to dogs and what is a dog tick?
Ticks are external parasites that feed on the blood of mammals, birds, and other species. They may look like little spiders, but they have a significantly larger dorsal shield than spiders have.
There are many tick species that we have to be aware off.
Two of the most common tick species are dog and deer ticks. You check the difference here.
If you want to identify them, visit Tick Encounter.
The most dangerous areas are the fields, forests, and yards across the country.
When they get attached, they immediately are looking for a thinner skin area like the dog’s armpits, ears, area around the collar, under the tail, around the genitals.
2. Can ticks affect dogs?
Yes, they can.
If a tick bites your dog two things can happen:
- The tick was not infected, and you removed it;
- The tick was infected, so your dog can be infected too.
The most harmful diseases that affect dogs are Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, Bartonellosis, and Hepatozoonosis.
According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, “Ticks also release toxins that can harm their hosts. Skin wounds caused by ticks can lead to secondary bacterial infections and screwworm infestations. Severe tick infestations can lead to anemia and death.”
If your dog gets infected, he might have at least one of these symptoms from an infected tick:
- Loss of appetite;
- Joint swelling (a sign of Lyme infection).
But there can be different diseases so the symptoms may vary.
3. Is there a season for ticks and what time of a year do dogs can get ticks?
Many regions where summer is all-year-round or has a temperature that doesn’t go below 10°C (45°F) have a higher risk of tick diseases.
But for those countries that have cold winters, ticks usually appear in March and continue to live throughout the whole summer till October or November.
March to November is the time when ticks are the most active, and this is the time when dogs get ticks the most.
4. What are the best ways to protect your dog from the ticks?
The best way to protect your dog against these diseases is to prevent tick bites.
It is recommended to apply permethrin to your clothing or use clothing pre-treated with permethrin if you travel to high tick endemic areas in the US and Europe. This will help you to be safe and it will protect your dog, as you won’t be transferring ticks to your dog.
These products can be obtained in some travel clinics or from outdoor retailers when in the US.
Ticks can be infected with more than one type of bacteria that can cause human and dog illnesses. Prevention against tick bites will protect you and your dog from more than just Lyme Disease.
Here are some treatments against ticks you can use for your dog:
- spot-on – they are applied to your pets’ neck (you have to spread the hairs at the base of the neck until the skin is visible). They usually protect your pet for up to one month;
- Medical shampoos – they kill parasites when you wash your dog’s coat. Usually, they have to stay on the fur for 10 minutes before being rinsed off;
- Dips – they are concentrated chemicals that need to be diluted in water and then applied to your pet’s fur;
- Oral medications – they disrupt the life cycle of parasites and kill immature fleas and ticks;
- Collars – they contain chemicals that get transferred onto your pets’ skin;
- Powders and sprays – kill and repel parasites, some of the sprays can also be used at home for the furniture, for dealing with the parasite invasion;
- Natural alternatives – they usually do not contain drugs or synthetic chemicals;
- Ultrasound tick repellers – they are chemical-free, preventive, they don’t kill parasites but keep them away
We usually use tick and flee collars.
They are pretty easy to use, as you just have to put them around your dog’s neck, and they do their job for the whole tick season.
This one is Seresto/Foresto.
This will be the 3rd year we’re using it, and we’re really satisfied with it.
When I took it off at the end of the tick season that is when Vivi got her first tick in years. So be careful, and don’t take them off too soon. We learned our lesson.
5. How to remove a tick from your dog?
If you see the tick crawling on your dog, that’s great. It means that it has not yet been attached to your dog’s skin.
You can easily take the tick off the dog and dispose of it by burning, dousing, rubbing in alcohol, or crashing it between two hard surfaces.
But if the tick is already attached to your dog, do the following steps:
- Get as close to the skin as possible. Spread the dog hear so you can see the skin clearly;
- Take the sharpest tweezers or special tick tweezers (great if you have them);
- Put the tweezers as close to the skin so you can grasp the tick’s head (be sure to not squeeze the body of the tick).
- When you’ve grabbed the head of the tick, don’t pull it out – screw it out;
- Check if the tick has been fully removed, sometimes the head gets stuck into the skin;
- And, of course, dispose of the tick as I mentioned previously.
Note: if you squeeze the tick’s body all the gut from the tick can enter your dog. If the tick is infected, also the disease enters the body.
To sum it up
You have to be very careful when it comes to dog parasites.
These little but infectious things can do a great harm to your dog’s health.
There is no such thing as too much protection when it comes to health. Better to have more than one protective method for your dog than none.
A great way how to have a double protection, for example, is to have a tick collar and an ultrasound tick repeller.
Be safe and keep your furry friends healthy.