How Long Can a Tick Live on a Dog?

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Is your pooch ticked off over ticks? Just a couple of these incredibly pesky creatures can create a full-blown infestation in your yard or home if they are not treated in time. If ticks are common in your neck of the woods, it's important to get to know your enemy in order to best protect your pet.

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Some species of ticks are more likely to be encountered by your dog. These species include the American dog tick, the lone star tick, the deer or black-legged tick, and the brown dog tick. Each of these species have the potential to not just irritate your dog but carry harmful diseases. How long do ticks stay attached to a dog? It's important for pet owners to understand the answer to this question.

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How to find ticks on a dog

A tick can live on a dog for quite a while, particularly if you don't help by pulling them off. After a walk in the woods or through high grass, make sure to check your dog in the common places ticks like to hide. Run your hands over your dog's body and pay attention to vulnerable areas, such as in and around the ears, in and around the eyes, between the toes, on the lower belly, around the base of the tail, and under the armpits.

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Seed ticks on dogs

With more than 850 species of ticks laying thousands of eggs at a time, ticks can be a real problem for dogs. Once filled with blood, female ticks fall off the host and lay eggs. The eggs hatch into larvae, called "seed ticks." There are two life stages of seed ticks. Dogs can encounter a tick at any stage in a tick's life cycle.

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Seed ticks are the larvae of ticks. They have six legs at the first stage of their development. It is in this stage that you're likely to find seed ticks on dogs. They embed in a host's skin, feed for one to five days, fall to the ground, and grow two more legs. At this point, the larva molts and is now a larger, eight-legged nymph. Then, they look for a second host.

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Remember that to seed ticks, dog fur looks like an appealing home. The eight-legged seed tick attaches to the second host until fully engorged, a process that takes three to 11 days. Engorged nymphs then detach from their host to molt into their final adult stage.

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How long do ticks stay on dogs?

Once a host is found, a mature tick feeds until it swells to 10 times its original size. The adult tick life cycle is split by sex. Some males stay on the host for up to three years, engorging, mating, and repeating the cycle. Females, on the other hand, engorge, fall off, lay eggs, and die. So, how long can a tick stay on a dog? Depending on the sex of the tick, it can stay on your dog for three months to three years.

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Ideally, of course, a tick will not stay on a dog for long. In addition to using tweezers or even just your fingernails to pry a tick off your dog when you see one appear, you can keep a tick from latching to your dog with topical or oral preventatives. Some of these products are available over the counter or can even be made at home, while others are medication that requires a prescription. Talk to your veterinarian about the best way to prevent seed ticks on dogs and obtain the prevention method that is right for you.

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