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Ticks 101

08/28/2018

Picture this...It’s a beautiful, sunny day and you’ve decided to take your dog, Buddy, for a hike through the nearby woods, complete with a clear trail. After a few hours of hiking and wandering, you get home, only to find that Buddy is shaking his head quite a bit. You take a quick look over Buddy’s head, neck and ears, and low and behold, you find a tick!

Picture this...It’s a beautiful, sunny day and you’ve decided to take your dog, Buddy, for a hike through the nearby woods, complete with a clear trail. After a few hours of hiking and wandering, you get home, only to find that Buddy is shaking his head quite a bit. You take a quick look over Buddy’s head, neck and ears, and low and behold, you find a tick!

Unfortunately, the warmer weather can expose pets to these pesky, unwanted parasites. These pests carry with them tick-borne diseases that can present a number of problems for your pet.

First and foremost, always check your pet after spending time outdoors, especially in a tick-laden area. Here are some signs from PetMD signaling that your dog may have ticks:

  1. A tick in your house

If you spot a tick anywhere in your home, chances are your dog brought it into the house. You should immediately check your dog for ticks.

  1. Your dog has a fever

If a dog is bitten by a tick, it may show signs of mild or high-grade fever. These symptoms include loss of appetite, weakness, shivering and unusual panting. While fever can be a sign of other problems, check your dog for ticks and call your veterinarian to discuss the issue.

  1. Scabs

If your dog is chewing or licking at a specific spot that appears to be a scab, it may be an embedded tick that requires attention.

  1. Head shaking

Usually when ticks embed in the ear canal, dogs will constantly shake their heads. Ticks like to hide in damp, warm places. If your dog is shaking his head more than normal, do a thorough tick check.

  1. Feel a bump

If you feel a bump on your dog as you’re petting him, don’t ignore it. Check for ticks!

With all of these signs, be sure to call your veterinarian for advice and treatment options.

So what are ticks, exactly? The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) explains that these pests are fairly common ectoparasites (i.e. they live on the outside of an animal) on both dogs and cats. Various tick species are found throughout the different regions of the country. Ticks attach by inserting their mouthparts into the host’s skin and secreting a sticky substance onto the skin surface to firmly adhere for feeding. They feed on the host’s blood until full and then detach to molt, find a mate, or lay eggs. All tick species feed at the larvae, nymph, and adult life stages.

Ticks are capable of transmitting disease to a pet. Most notable are Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Canine Ehrlichiosis, but there are many more.

To keep your dog protected from ticks, be sure to talk with your veterinarian about preventative options.

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