Ticks are dangerous parasites, often compared to fleas and other insects, but they are more related to the spider family. They can carry diseases that affect dogs and can sometimes be fatal.
Dogs are often exposed to ticks when they walk in areas that have grass. Ticks usually survive on the blood of the host animal. Once attached to the victim’s skin, they will not come off until after they have finished their “meal”, which can take several days.
What are common tick diseases?
Ticks can cause irritation, inflammation and infection at the site of the bite. The biggest health concern is the transmission of diseases, such as piroplasmosis, ehrlichiosis and Lyme disease.
Lyme disease can also affect humans, and its symptoms in dogs include listlessness, fever, loss of appetite, swollen lymph nodes and lameness. Humans can also contract Lyme disease from the bite of an infected tick.
Symptoms in humans resemble those of the flu: fatigue, muscle and joint pain, headache. The disease can be severe and even lead to paralysis in humans.
Where to check your dog for ticks
- The ticks are small, round and grey/brown coloured. They can sometimes be mistaken for skin blisters, but when you see the tick’s legs on the skin, it is easier to distinguish them (consult your veterinarian if you have any doubts).
- When it feeds on blood, it changes to a grey colour and measures approximately 1 cm in diameter.
- After climbing on the host animal, ticks tend to move to areas with less hair, such as ears and lips, before gripping in place for food.
- When looking for ticks, pay special attention to the areas around the head, ears, paws and feet.
- The ticks are most prevalent in places for grazing deers or sheep, so make sure to check your dog after a walk in such environments carefully.
How to remove a tick from your dog’s skin
Since ticks have sharp mouths, it is difficult to remove them without a special tool called a tick puller or tick hook. As the name suggests, the tick hook is a two-branch hook that you slide under the tick’s head and gently rotate until the entire tick comes off.
Normal tweezers can crush the body allowing the infected blood into your dog’s body, or cut tick’s body, leaving its head and mouthparts hanging on the skin. If you are removing the tick, make sure to wear protective gloves.
How can you protect your dog from ticks
You can protect your dog from the dangers of tick bites by following a daily prevention plan and to always examine him after being out for a walk. Anti-tick products are also beneficial, consult your veterinarian to choose the most suitable one for your dog.