Ticks are eight-legged parasites that bite your dog to drink their blood. Although dog ticks are very tiny, they can swell up to the size of a pea once they’ve attached themselves to your dog by burying their mouthparts into their skin. You’ll usually find them around your dog’s head and neck area – just part your dog’s fur and run your fingers along their skin.
The main problem associated with ticks is the MANY tick-borne diseases (Babesiosis, Ricketsiosis, Borreliosis and Lyme disease can cause arthritis and swelling of your dog’s joints, resulting in painful lameness) and breeders should understand that no product may claim to be 100% efficient in all cases. Although rare, ticks can consume enough of your dog’s blood to cause a deficiency called anemia. Certain female ticks can also cause a rare paralysis in dogs as a result of a toxin they produce while feeding. We often assume that when they sleep on cement surfaces, they would be tick-free but that’s not the case as ticks do not need grass to thrive, but a host to feed on.
Signs and Symptoms
Ticks tend to stick to one place to feed themselves and as they feed on your dog’s blood, they can grow from the size of a pinhead to the size of a pea, depending on how long they have been there. If your dog has a tick, you should feel a small bump with your fingers or comb. DO NOT pull or force the comb over the bump; stop to see what the bump is before proceeding (pulling part of the tick’s body out can be harmful to your dog). You will also want to check the skin for areas that appear red or irritated and watch your dog for signs of excessive scratching or licking in any particular area. This can be a sign that a tick has attached itself to the skin in this spot. Tick bites on dogs can also cause irritation and redness.
Treatment and prevention
The best way to prevent ticks from attaching to your dog is by the regular use of tick control products. Also once you’ve spotted them; removing ticks can be a tricky process as there are chances of leaving the tick’s head inside the skin, which may cause infections later. You should always use rubber gloves when removing the tick to avoid any possible injury or infection.
- Grasp the tick very close to the skin with a pair of fine-tipped tweezers.
- With a steady motion, pull the tick’s body away from the skin. Avoid crushing the tick to prevent infection.
- After removal, clean your dog’s skin with soap and warm water or apply a dab of triple antibiotic ointment.
- If you are uncomfortable removing the tick, you can also take your dog to your veterinarian.
- Dispose of the tick by placing it in rubbing alcohol to kill it.