Summer means fun in the sun for your pup, but it also marks the height of tick season. These tiny parasites from the arachnid family feed off the blood of mammals and can cause ongoing health problems for your dog. Here are five tips to help keep your pup safe from these pesky critters:
The Truth About Tick Season
Tick season typically runs from May to September, depending on where you live. However, ticks come out to feed any day of the year that is over 39°F. So, depending on which part of the country you live in, almost every day can be considered tick season.
The Dangers of Ticks
Ticks may be small, but they can cause a lot of issues for dogs. These parasites carry diseases that can be passed on to your dog as ticks chew through skin to feed off of their blood.
The most common disease your dog can catch from ticks is called Lyme Disease. At its most serious, it can lead to cardiac or renal issues leading to death. What makes the disease more dangerous is that the initial symptoms are hard to judge. They include fever, lethargy, loss of appetite and joint pain. If your pup exhibits any of these signs, be sure to take them to their veterinarian to ensure they aren’t Lyme Disease-related.
How Ticks Move
Ticks can’t fly or jump in order to get from point A to point B. Instead, they hang out on the edges of leaves, branches and tall grass hoping to drop down on or reach out towards unsuspecting mammals in order grab on and feed.
Once they land, they like to burrow deep into the warmest areas of your dog, such as the folds in their skin around their shoulders, neck and armpits.
How to Search for Ticks
Ticks are small but have a distinct round or oval shape which makes them stand out on your dog’s skin. In order to get rid of them, you will want to protect yourself by wearing latex gloves. If you suspect a tick has jumped on your pup for a free ride and some food, inspect your dog immediately before the tick starts feeding.
Feel around areas such as the back, ears, neck, shoulders and armpits. Because ticks are small, it might be easier to find them through touch as opposed to sight. When searching for these pesky creatures, diligently feel for strange bumps or ridges and pull back your dog’s fur in certain areas to ensure a full inspection.
How to Remove Ticks
If you find ticks on your dog’s skin, carefully try to remove them while completely intact. If they break apart and the tick’s feeding tube stays imbedded in your pup, it may cause health issues. Once ticks have completely fed themselves, they are easy to spot because they will be fully engorged with the blood they’ve consumed. If you find ticks at this stage, be sure to carefully remove them as you don’t want any of the digested blood on your skin or your dog.
The chances of your dog developing Lyme Disease from tick bites is relatively low. However, there is the added concern that Lyme Disease can be transferred to humans. If you know your dog has been bitten by one or suspect they have based on symptoms, bring them to the vet immediately. As with all pet health issues, it is better to be safe than sorry by having a professional examination.
The Companion Animal Parasite Council has a terrific website for the most up-to-date information regarding parasites that may affect your dog. One of their top recommendations is that dogs stay on flea and tick preventative at all times. Overall, a good preventative method will cover most places in US and Canada that deal with either year-round or even just seasonal populations of fleas or ticks.