Ticks aka Ectoparasites, Anthropods, Arachnids
Ticks ~ Humans & Dogs
Let’s talk about ectoparasites, anthropoids and arachnids or as we know them ticks, which can affect not only human’s, but dog’s, health too.
Be Tick Aware
Before going, I was aware that The New Forest is an area renowned for ticks, I’ve seen a tick before on our family dog so know what one looks like. I’ve watched my Dad remove a tick and I know they aren’t good if they are not found and removed as quickly as possible. That, however, is about the extent of my tick knowledge.
I have a regular grooming routine for both dogs, but when we are away I tend to let it slip just aiming to keep their paws clean and, if they goes in the sea, wash off the salty water. The day after we returned, it was back to the regular grooming routine and that’s when I found the tick, on top of Barney’s right eye.
As it was so close to the eye, I called the vet and took him in that morning. Removal was easy, Barney was calm, didn’t move at all and had a penicillin injection afterwards to stop any possible infection, as the surrounding area was a little bit hard.
I realised that it was time to read up on my tick knowledge as I had, possibly naively, thought that because it was winter there wouldn’t be any ticks about!
What Are Ticks?
Ticks are small, blood sucking anthropods related to spiders and mites. Contrary to popular belief, ticks don’t jump (like fleas), they are attracted to warmth and motion, hiding out in tall grass or plants in wooded areas waiting for prospective hosts.
When you, or your dog (or any other warm-blooded mammal) brushes by, they climb on and attach their mouth parts into the skin and begin to feed (sounds pretty gruesome doesn’t it?). Depending on the type of tick, they may continue to feed for several days and do not detach until its meal is complete.
Identifying And Finding A Tick On Your Dog
Ticks require a relative high level of humidity to survive and therefore are generally found in areas of moderate to high rainfall with vegetation, such as long grass, woodland, heathland, forests and moorland which retain high humidity levels.
So whether you live in the countryside, or the city, if your dog goes in fields, woodland, parks or even your garden, a tick may have an opportunity to attach. Ticks are more abundant in late spring to early summer and then again during autumn, but it is not unknown for ticks to be active all year round, even on milder winter days.
Ticks usually attach on dogs around the muzzle, head, ears, neck, chest and armpits, this is where they land after being knocked off vegetation as your dog goes by, or sticks his head into long grass for a good sniff!
Depending on what stage of the tick’s life cycle, it can be exceptionally tiny (the size of a full stop) or the engorged to the size of a little finger nail. You will generally find it on your dog when it is swollen and looking like a small pebble, most likely, you won’t be able to see any legs, these aren’t in the skin, but hidden by the engorged body. It will feel like a small bump/lump on the skin. Hence the importance of regular grooming, so you know your pet’s skin and fur and what’s unusual.
Not all ticks transmit diseases, in fact in the UK there are 4 known diseases from British ticks, but around the world the diseases are different, see the links below to find out more about tick transmitted diseases in your country.
In fact, in many cases, once the tick has latched on, the dog will show no signs of discomfort at all. However, there maybe signs of irritation around the bite site, including redness, inflammation and your dog may scratch the area more. This will hopefully encourage you to inspect the area and skin, find the tick, sort out removal, either yourself or, via your vet, as the sooner the tick is located and removed, the lower the risk of reaction or disease.
Tick Borne Diseases
Tick borne diseases may take, hours, days, weeks or months to appear and last for as short as 24 hours or continue for days or even weeks. The the following are UK tick borne diseases:
- Lyme Disease
Should you notice symptoms which can be a fever, lethargy, joint swelling, loss of appetite or even a temporary condition called ‘tick paralysis’, which can develop from difficulty with walking to paralysis, you should take your dog to your vet as soon as possible. Your vet will carry out proper testing and any necessary treatment can begin, however, typically these symptoms will resolve after the tick has been removed.
Safe Removal Of Ticks
If you search on the internet, you will get many different suggested ways for tick removal however, there are only three correct ways to ensure safe and complete removal of a tick;
- Take your dog to a vet,
- With a tick hock or,
- With fine tipped tweezers
How Not To Remove Ticks
- Olive oil on the tick and turning anti-clockwise,
- Nail varnish remover,
- Freeze it off,
- Finger nails or
- Lit match (never a good idea near a dog!).
Incorrect removal can result in the tick’s mouth parts being left behind in the skin, compression of the tick’s body, puncture of the tick’s body and, injury and irritation to the tick which can then cause it to release more infectious fluid from its digestive system into the wound site (yuk!).
Once the tick is removed ensure it is properly destroyed so that it cannot attach itself to another animal (or you!).
Prevention And Aftercare
A pesticide product that kills ticks is known as an acaricide. Acaricides that can be used on dogs include dusts, impregnated collars, sprays, or topical treatments. Some acaricides kill the tick on contact. Others may be absorbed into the bloodstream of a dog and kill ticks that attach and feed.
Other products which can be used are topically applied products, such as a powder or a repellent, such as a spray. I haven’t used any of these products yet, but I probably would look at something more natural to prevent ticks as these products all contain some sort of chemical and may cause skin irritation or a reaction to the chemical.
Looking on the intranet, one natural remedy which keeps showing as a prevention for ticks is Rose Geranium oil, this is something I may look to try out on our dogs, a dab of oil on the top of the neck and at the base of the tail.
Also, keeping your dog out of long grass will help prevent ticks, if you keep your dog on lead this is easy but we enjoy letting Sandy and Barney off lead so they can enjoy the countryside and have a good sniff! Do you have any tick prevention tips that you have tried? I’d love to hear them.
All the information above is to give you more information, however, if you are unsure, or nervous, about removing the tick or, your dog is showing any of the signs of symptoms above, your first port of call should be your vet.
The hardness around the tick bite area on Barney’s eye has gone now and so far he hasn’t shown any symptoms, but at least now I am aware of them.
Check out my Dog Health board on Pinterest, for more pictures and infographic tick information. Be Tick Aware!
- European Tick Borne Diseases check out – European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (click here)
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention for US tick borne diseases (click here)
- Dogs and Ticks (click here)
- O’Tom Tick Hook website includes instructions and videos on how to remove ticks.
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