When you find ticks in dogs or other pets, it's potentially a very dangerous situation for your pets. Tick infestation has to be treated quickly since ticks carry infectious organisms that can infect animals and people with Lyme disease, babesiosis, etc.
What are ticks?
Ticks are one-piece body, have harpoons like barbs along with sticky secretion which helps hold the tick to the animal or host. Ticks can be as small as not visible to as large as a fingertip. They are sturdy and can thrive in outdoor areas like the beach, woods, etc. Birds, animal or even insects can be the hosts of ticks. Ticks can create serious diseases like tick fever, Lyme disease, babesiosis etc.
Types of ticks:
Ticks can be divided into 2 types:
- Hard Ticks: Hard ticks have hard outer shell generally black in color. These ticks are technically known as IXODIDAE.
- Soft Ticks: Soft ticks do not have outer shells and generally have round bodies. These ticks are technically known as ARGASIDAE.
What are ticks lifecycle stages?
Stage 1: Eggs
Stage 2: Six-legged larvae
Stage 3: Eight legged nymph
Stage 4: Adult
Tick needs to fetch blood of the host in each stage to reach the next stage. Most often ticks die due to lack of hosts to feed upon.
Female ticks lay eggs in thousands which hatch into larvae. Larvae attach to small hosts like birds and feed for days before they become a nymph. When they become nymph then they look for bigger hosts to feed upon like dogs. After days of feeding, nymph becomes adult and continues to feed until removed from the host.
Most of the time diseases are spread by ticks in the nymph stage and the worst part is that ticks are hardly visible during nymph phase.
How tick looks at different lifecycle stages:
Where do dogs get ticks from?
Dogs get ticks when they are in direct contact with ticks. Ticks are generally harboring around woods or high grasses. Ticks are attracted to dogs or other animals because of their odour, CO2 emitted from their skins and blood of their hosts.
Symptoms of ticks in dogs
- Head shaking by a dog: At the time your dog shakes head because there is a tick lingering around his ear.
- Your dog has a fever: Many times your dog gets a fever when bitten by a tick.
- A tick in your home: If you see a tick moving in your home, there are very high chances that your dog is having ticks in his fur too.
- Unexplained scabs: Scabs are protective tissue that covers damaged skin and also happens over tick bite areas.
What is the best way to remove ticks?
Spot the tick and spread your pet’s fur, then grasp the tick by the tweezer as close to the skin of the host and pull the tick out gently. Use a pair of tweezers that are pointed to disengage the tick from the body of the host.
Do make sure that there is no mouthpart of tick left behind while removing it since it can cause inflammation or infection.
How to prevent ticks in dogs?
Ticks can be a big irritant for your dog wherein dogs will feel the urge to scratch infested areas, also ticks from animals can cross over to humans at home especially kids who might come in close contact with home pets.
There are several ways to prevent ticks in dogs and following are some of the prudent ways:
Spot on treatments or medications can be bought from local chemists or pharmacy shops. Spoton medications are known to be very effective way of preventing or repelling ticks and fleas. Spoton treatments should be discussed with vets before being given to pets and the medication labels must be read carefully before administering to pets.
Oral medications are to be given as per the directions of the vet. They are generally given one pill per month to keep away ticks and fleas. They extend immunity from ticks and fleas upto a month. You should use oral medications only when required i.e during tick seasons and not as a general routine pill.
Shampoo is another effective way to repel ticks in dogs or other pets. it is recommended to bathe pets at least 2 times a month with medicated shampoos to prevent ticks and fleas. Shampoo's effect don't last as long as spot-on medications or oral medications.
Medicated dips are concentrated tick medications diluted in water and is applied on pet's fur by sponge or sprinkler. The medicated lotion applied need not be cleaned with water after application. The medication gets absorbed by the skin and repels the ticks attached to skin. The chemicals in medicated dips are generally strong and should not be applied to puppies (less than 6 months of age) or pregnant or nursing mother or old dogs (greater than 10 yrs of age). The advice of vets must be sought before the application of medicated dips on your pets.
Collars are a popular way to prevent or repel ticks from pets. Tick collar is put around the neck of the pet and it should come in contact with the skin so that the medication in collar gets absorbed by the skin and repels the ticks and flea in pets. Tick collar when wet can be toxic for pets since they can lick the medication dripping from the collar. Use tick collars only after consulting your vet.
Medicated powders are used in pets frequently about once per week so that the effect of medication remains in skin and the ticks do not get attached to the skin. The medicated powder should be applied with caution since they can be absorbed into the lungs of pets while breathing or might go into the eyes or mouth of the pet while applying.
Ticks sprays are a local application products that can be used in the middle of other long term alternatives i.e oral medication or spot-on medication. Tick sprays are high impact but low longevity products and hence can be used as a tactical application product and not a routine product. Do take care while spraying your pets since it can irritate the eyes of your pets if applied near eyes or on eyes.
Reference Links: Management of tick infestation in dogs