Ticks are a nasty and somewhat troublesome parasite in the world of pets, particularly for dogs. Although they’re not uncommon, finding a tick on your dog is as unnerving as it is dangerous. Therefore, knowing exactly what a tick is and what it does to your dog is a common question amongst many pet parents. So, let’s get to the bottom of it…
What are Ticks?
Many people know ticks to be a parasite that attaches itself to dogs, but what exactly are they? There are many different types of ticks, but as a species, ticks are actually related to spiders! Yes, they have eight legs, making them arachnids!
Although, unlike typical spiders, these parasites bite your dog to drink their blood. They may be tiny, but ticks can swell to up the size of a pea once they’ve attached themselves to your furry friend and attached their mouthparts to drink as much blood as they can. This can be very uncomfortable and itchy for your furry friend, and they may not always be able to tell you.
From dog ticks (Rhipicephalus Sanguineus) to sheep ticks (Ixodes Ricinus), or even hedgehog ticks (Ixodes Hexagonus), there are many different types of ticks that you may find attached to your dog. But no matter the type, the most dangerous aspect of a tick infestation is the diseases they may be carrying.
So, are Ticks Dangerous?
So now we know what ticks are and that they have eight legs, but that doesn’t necessarily mean all ticks are deadly. More often than not, your dog is unlikely to come across any majorly harmful ticks and the beasties in themselves aren’t dangerous. After drinking a small amount of blood for a few days, the tick will drop off and go on its merry way.
The biggest threat that a tick infestation can bring to your dog is the risk of bad diseases, such as Lyme Disease. This is an infectious disease caused by bacteria and is most commonly spread through the bite of infected ticks.
If Lyme disease was to be passed on to your dog, it needs to be treated by a veterinary professional. If your dog has been bitten by a tick, and you’re concerned for their health, visit a vet for professional advice.
This illness causes a range of symptoms in your dog such as fever, loss of appetite and energy, lameness, stiffness and joint swelling. If your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms, that doesn’t mean it is Lyme Disease, but you should take it to a vet either way.
Lyme disease can also be passed on to humans and other animals, so needless to say stopping the risk of contraction is very important. If you have been bitten by a tick yourself, it is wise to see a GP, especially if you begin to feel unwell.
How To Spot Ticks in Your Dog
Spotting if your dog has ticks (or has been bitten by a tick) is easier than you would perhaps expect. Dog ticks are often large enough to be visible in themselves, especially if they’ve bitten and have grown to pea size! If you aren’t sure if it’s a tick or a wart, look closely as you may be able to see their legs.
Ticks are typically found close to the head and neck area. If you can’t find any by looking, you may be able to feel them with your fingers. Simply by running your fingers through your dogs’ fur will help you identify any unusual cuts or bumps that may be a tick.
How to remove dog ticks?
Removing dog ticks can be tricky, and if done incorrectly, you may leave your dog’s skin irritated, inflamed or infected. However, hope is not lost, as there are several safe ways to remove ticks from your dog:
1) Tick Removal Tool
Tick removal tools can be found online or can be given to you by your vet. These tools are specially designed to remove ticks and will get rid of the mouth part as well as the body.
These tools are a safe but efficient way in removing ticks from your furry friend, but they can be tricky to use, so ask your vet for guidance if you’re unsure.
2) Flea and Tick Products
There are various flea and tick removal products on the market today, and although many of them are preventative treatments, some will also kill ticks. This method of tick removal may take longer and require frequent application, but it is effective and can still do the job. If you are considering using a flea and tick treatment, it is best to talk to your vet first, so they can recommend the best and most suitable options.
3) The Vet
If you are worried the health of your dog, or you are simply concerned about them, it maybe time for a trip to the vet! Vets are able to remove the ticks, and also provide and recommend the necessary treatments as needed.
How to prevent dog ticks?
Obviously, when it comes to dog ticks and what they do to your dog, prevention is better than the cure. If you are interested in what you can do to prevent dog ticks, check out our blog post that gives you all the tips and advice you need for a tick free life!