How to Identify and Eliminate Ticks on Dogs
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Ticks are one of the most common external parasites and extremelyharmful to our pets. As well as creating an annoying itch and infecting the skin, these parasites are carriers of numerous diseases. They can transmit these to our dog through their saliva as they feed on them.
To avoid this happening and to identify them in time, AnimalWised want to elaborate more on these parasites. In this article we will differentiate between the types of ticks that can attack, how they adhere to a dog's body and how to find and eliminate them. Keep reading to discover how to identify and eliminate ticks on dogs.
How to identify a tick
Like mites that cause scabies in dogs and cats, ticks are arachnids that lodge onto the animal's skin to feed on their blood. They are not part of the group of insects, as many pet owners mistakenly believe. In the field of biology, this type of external parasites are known to live on the surface of another living being as ectoparasites.
To differentiate the multiple species of ticks that exist, they are divided into two large families: hard ( Ixodidae ) and soft ( Argasidae ).
- As for hard ticks, the most common genera that are housed in dogs are Amblyomma, Dermacentor, Haemaphysalis, Hyalomma, Ixodes and Rhipicehpahlus. The latter being the most common of all because it inhabits practically all regions of the world.
To identify a hard tick, we must look at the dorsal area of the parasite, where we will see clearly the presence of a hard shell. In males, this carapace covers the entire upper part of the body, while in females only cover the area closest to the head.
- As for soft ticks, the most common is called Otobius megnini. It is the one that usually is installed in the ears of the dogs and differs from the previous group. Mainly, for not having the dorsal shell. Also, in this type of parasites it is not possible to differentiate sex with the naked eye.
All species of ticks go through the same evolutionary phases throughout their life after leaving the egg: larva, nymph and adult. The only difference between one group and another is that the Argasidae family can go through several nymphal episodes before reaching adulthood. In all its phases the tick needs to feed on blood, so it can start to stay in dogs from birth. In general, larvae and nymphs are usually settled on the back of the animal, while adults prefer areas where the skin is thinner and therefore can feed better, such as neck, ears or between fingers.
Tick bites in dogs
In order to understand how ticks tick and what their food consists of, we must first know where these ectoparasites usually live and how they get to stay in the skin of our dogs. In this way, we will not only know how to identify a tick bite, but also how we can prevent it.
The season of the year and, therefore, the temperature at which we find ourselves are the key factors that determine the level of activity of this organism. In general, Spring to Fall is when they are most active. During the winter, most species of ticks choose to hibernate, only a minority is able to remain active throughout the year.
Ticks cannot fly or jump, so when they are not on the surface of a host body, they are on the ground. Most of them survive in nature, in rural areas, in forests, in the countryside or even in gardens and parks with vegetation close to the urban outskirts. When the dog passes through an area infested with these parasites, the tick accesses it through its legs, since, remember, they cannot jump. They will start to climb and run all over their body until they find the ideal place to settle and start feeding.
Symptoms of ticks in dogs
As we mentioned in the previous section, adult ticks prefer those areas where the skin is thinner and can access the blood more quickly. Areas such as the neck, ears, or the perianal area or points that the dog cannot reach to scratch. These should be the first places to examine if you suspect that your dog has ticks. Once the parasite has secured itself onto the dog, it will begin to pierce the skin to begin feeding, causing a subsequent hemorrhage that is easy to identify. Similarly, at the same time as it feeds, the tick introduces into the organism of the animal its saliva, a fact that causes serious consequences in an animal's body. The saliva of these parasites is composed of toxins and molecules with analgesic properties, anti-inflammatory and anticoagulants that reduce the capacity of the animal's immune system. In this way, the tick bite can lead to paralysis or intoxication in the dog.
In addition to the symptoms already mentioned, the most obvious that will indicate our pet has a guest in their body is itching. We will observe how they scratch continuously energetically, both with their legs and teeth to try and eliminate the parasite.
Feeding the tick
The ticks of the Ixodidae family are fed in two phases. The first one lasts a week and can go up to 10 times, while the second takes 12 to 24 hours. In this second phase of faster feeding, the parasite can multiply its weight upto 50 times. For their part, those of the family Argasidae only feed once, sucking enough blood to allow them to increase their weight up to 4 times. Thus, hard ticks tend to stay longer in the same body than soft ticks.
Diseases that transmit ticks to dogs
In addition to producing the above symptoms, through the inoculation of their saliva, they can transfer a number of diseases. The following being the most common:
- Lyme disease or canine borreliosis is transmitted by one of the hard ticks. It causes, mainly, an inflammation of the joints, fever, lack of appetite, decay and kidney problems among other symptoms.
- Anaplasmosis. Its main symptom is high fever and as secondary diarrhea, vomiting, lack of appetite and paralysis in the inflamed joints.
- Babesiosis is a disease transmitted by Babesia- infected ticks that causes gradual anemia in the animal as the main symptom, as well as jaundice and fever.
- Hepatozoonosis, a parasitic pathology transmitted mainly by the tick Rhipicehpahlus. It causes hyperthermia, anemia, polyuria and produces motor problems as the main symptoms.
- Anemia. In the cases of dogs with multiple adhered ticks can produce acute anemia.
- Paralysis is a condition caused by the toxins that make up the saliva of the tick. It usually shows the first signs passed two or three days after the sting of the parasite, starting with a general weakness in the animal and ending with a complete paralysis if not treated in time.
If you suspect that your dog could suffer any of these diseases, or another pathology not named, do not hesitate and go to the vet as soon as possible. Ticks are carriers of multiple diseases, so if you identify one in your body you should bring your pet to a specialist for examination.
How to remove ticks in dogs
As you can see throughout the article, before the tick bites, they scan the body of the animal to find the best place to stay. We can use this time to our advantage and use a comb for fleas several times a day - before the ticks have a chance to bite. With this tool we will be able to catch both nymphs and adult ticks, not larvae, and eliminate them at the moment to avoid them biting our dog or ourselves.
If, on the other hand, your dog already has symptoms, the quickest way to identify it is by hand. So, be patient, look at the areas where your dog scratches continuously and begin to inspect by palpating the skin. Look for a parasite with oval-rounded shape, between 30 mm and 1 cm and a half in size. Remember that depending on the type of tick it can have hard or soft skin. If you discover between one and three, you can remove them by hand, but if you find a higher number it is best to use products sent by the vet.
How to Remove the Dog Tick Manually
Once identified, you must make a pair of tweezers, grab the parasite with them as close to the mouth as possible and start to pull gently, always up. Never do it abruptly or twist it. You will only be able to remove one part of your body and leave attached to your dog the other, causing a major infection.
After removing the tick from the body of our dog, it is essential to disinfect the area and go to the specialist so you can examine the animal and determine if the parasite has passed through a disease. Also, if our dog has many ticks adhered to their body, it is advisable to take them to the veterinarian to apply the antiparasitic product they deem appropriate. The pipette is usually the treatment of choice for its rapid efficacy.
Measures to prevent our dog from having ticks
To prevent our dog from becoming the host of these annoying parasites, there are s series of products on the market that we must use:
- Antiparasitic pipettes
- Antiparasitic necklaces
- Internal antiparasites
- Shampoos, soaps and antiparasitic colonies
All these products must be purchased in veterinary clinics and used as directed by the specialist. Similarly, once deworming has begun by the use of internal pipettes or antiparasitic agents, we should not discontinue treatment unless otherwise advised by the veterinarian. On the other hand, we can opt for more natural options that do not alter or damage our dog's body. We advise you to check our article on deworming your dog. For now, there is no vaccine to act against these parasites.
In addition to using the aforementioned products, we must pay special attention to the places we frequently take our dog for walks. Try to avoid those areas that may be infested by them. In case of not being able to avoid them, AnimalWised recommend to acquire a comb for fleas and to comb your dog after the walk. This wasy we will catch the mite before they pierce your dog's skin.
On the other hand, when bathing our dog with antiparasitic shampoo , we can enhance its effects by mixing equally shampoos and apple cider vinegar; a natural product that both ticks and fleas hate. In addition to providing our dog's coat with extra shine and control their body odor, we will be able to prevent our pet from ticks.
This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to How to Identify and Eliminate Ticks on Dogs, we recommend you visit our De-worming category.