Ticks, are small arachnids that hang onto long grasses and branches most commonly in the spring and summer, but they are active throughout the year. Ticks can be found almost anywhere, from the deep forest to urban parks. Ticks can’t jump or fly, so when your pet brushes by the small bug, it climbs right onto them to catch a ride! The tick travels to a warm area on the animals body, usually around the head, ears and neck. The tick then latches onto the skin and starts feeding on the animals blood. Not only can this be gross and annoying, but ticks can also transmit diseases, cause anemia and possibly paralysis!
The lifespan of a tick can be several months to years, female adult ticks can lay hundreds of eggs at a time! The most common types of ticks in North America are: deer tick, brown dog tick, lone star tick and American dog tick. Most species of tick go through four life stages and it is crucial to protect and treat your pet against ticks in all stages.
The dangers of Ticks!
Although ticks are known for transmitting diseases, not all ticks carry disease! That being said, the threat of disease is always present where ticks are concerned and the risks should be taken very seriously. Ticks are notoriously difficult to dislodge, but if not removed entirely they can cause serious diseases. Most tick-borne diseases take several hours to transmit, so the sooner the tick is located and removed, the lower the risk of disease! Some ticks can cause a temporary condition called tick paralysis, which is manifested by a gradual onset of difficulty walking that can develop into full paralysis. Also, although rare, ticks can consume enough of your animal’s blood to cause a deficiency called anemia. The following are some tick-borne diseases: lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, rocky mountain spotted fever, babesiosis and bartonella.
It is also extremely important not to touch a tick with your bare hands, If you do, you put yourself at risk of contacting tick-borne diseases!
How do I know if my pet has ticks?
Ticks are often big enough to spot! They look like tiny spiders with whiteish, egg shaped bodies, but they become bigger and darker as they fill with blood. Ticks vary in size between 1mm and 1cm, depending on their age. A tick feels like a small bump on your pet’s skin, to check for this you can run your hands over your animals body feeling for tiny bumps. Following a tick bite, your pet may exhibit signs of a fever, these signs include: weakness, loss of appetite, shivering and unusual panting. Other signs your pet may have ticks include: lots of head shaking (the tick may be in or near your dogs ears) and unexplained scabs (the skin will become inflamed where the tick is attached).
The symptoms of most tick-borne diseases include a fever and lethargy. Some other symptoms could include: weakness, joint swelling and or anemia.
How do I get rid of ticks on my pet?!
There are many ways to get rid of ticks on your pet, and they all work in different ways. It’s suggested that you visit your veterinarian instead of trying to remove the tick yourself! Your vet can help you determine the best and safest option for you, your pet and your situation. The options include: spot-on treatments, oral medications, tick dips, shampoo and tick collars.
How to prevent ticks?
The best way to prevent ticks from latching onto your animals is by regularly using tick control products! It is extremely difficult to control your pets exposure to ticks, but your veterinarian can help you to avoid tick infested locations. If you come across a tick on your bedding, carpets or on the floor, do not brush it off as a single tick! Even if you find just one, always check your animals and do a closer examination. It is also important to consider your yard, you may need to make some changes to make the environment less tick friendly. If you have a tick problem in your yard, consider: ridding your yard of wild animals, create a 3ft buffer between your lawn and any woods (this will help to decrease the migration of ticks into your yard) and/or treating the outdoor environment.