While dog owners may not like to think about it, they need to be aware of parasites that can hurt their pups. In the warmer months, when dogs are spending more time outside—especially in nature and wooded areas—they can be susceptible to tick bites.
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Unfortunately, tick bites can result in a range of medical issues and even lead to death. That's why it's critical that dog owners stay on top of their dogs' care when it comes to ticks and do everything they can to keep their dogs safe.
Here's some more information on tick safety, including tick removal and what to do if your dog shows signs of illness.
All about ticks
Ticks are larger than fleas, which means that dog owners can usually see them on their pup. They become especially visible once they start feeding on a dog's blood. They don't have wings and will look oval and flat until they begin feasting. Ticks will hang out in wooded areas and in the grass and wait until a human or an animal walks by so they can latch on. In the United States, peak tick season is from April through July, but they are also out in the winter.
The American dog tick and the lone star tick are usually the type you will see on your dog. Tick bites from the American dog tick and lone star tick will not cause Lyme disease. Instead, dog ticks can carry diseases like tularemia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and tick paralysis.
Deer ticks and lyme disease
A dog tick is going to be bigger than a deer tick, which can transmit Lyme disease. If a deer tick latches onto your dog's skin, it could take weeks or months until you start to notice some symptoms. A lot of dogs that become infected will never show any signs of illness.
If your dog is infected, he could experience a fever, swollen joints, limping, lethargy, depression, loss of appetite, and kidney issues. Labradors and golden retrievers seem to be predisposed to kidney failure from Lyme disease. If you have one of these breeds, they may need emergency treatment right away after getting bit.
To determine if your dog has Lyme disease, your veterinarian may perform blood tests as well as see if the disease has reached your dog's kidneys.
How to prevent tick bites
The best ways for dog owners to prevent tick bites and the ensuing illnesses is to use a tick prevention product. You can always ask your veterinarian about the best products available. Additionally, you can stop your dog from going into wooded areas, especially during the summertime, and hire an exterminator to come to your yard and treat it for ticks if you've noticed that there is an issue.
Tick removal 101
After your dog comes back in from spending time outside, it's a good idea for check him for ticks. Typically, these parasites will latch onto your dog's skin around his eyelids, under the collar, in and around the ears, around the tail, between the back legs, between the toes, and under the front legs.
If you notice a tick on your dog, then you will need a tick removal tool to get it out. You can use tweezers for this. Don't try to burn the tick because it could hurt your dog. Instead, take the tweezers and grasp the tick's head where it meets your dog's skin. Then, slowly pull out the tick, but don't twist it. When it's removed, put it in a cup with rubbing alcohol to kill it. Disinfect your dog's skin with chlorhexidine. If you notice some irritation on your dog's skin, then call your veterinarian right away.
Dogs may be prone to getting tick bites, but that doesn't mean you're powerless in stopping them. By taking preventative measures and being vigilant about your dog's health, you can protect your pup from ticks and ensure he's going to have a fun time playing outside, no matter what.