What to do if you or your dog has a tick bite?
Protect your pup with these vet-approved tips!
Your dog loves brush-filled woods and fields full of tall grass where the tiny parasites (ticks) can latch onto your dog and sometimes transmit serious diseases unless you take the proper precautions.
Here's what every pet owner needs to know about identifying and removing ticks!
Why do ticks bite dogs?
"Ticks are obligate parasites," says Robert B. Kimsey, Ph.D, an entomologist from the University of California, Davis. "They subsist solely on blood; they don't even drink liquid water." Their potential hosts include wild animals, humans, and of course, pets.
Dogs can easily get ticks from tall grass and woods, but these tiny parasites can be found in public parks, urban and suburban areas also.
Tick bite can be dangerous and causes many illnesses for your dog!
Ticks can transmit illnesses like Lyme disease, ehrlichia, anaplasmosis, babiosis, bartonella, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, says John de Jong, DVM, a veterinarian in the Boston area and the current president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
When an infected tick bites a dog and proteins in its saliva get into the dog's bloodstream and cause problems. Some of the manifestations of these diseases can get quite serious without proper treatment. "Lyme disease can be very detrimental to kidney function, and can cause what's called Lyme nephropathy," Dr. de Jong says. "It's a destruction of the kidneys, and eventually they will fail, and the animal will die."
However, it's important to remember that not all ticks carry pathogens and certain diseases predominantly occur only in specific parts of the country. Taking the right preventative measures (more on that in a minute) will also protect your pet from tickborne illnesses.
What are the symptoms of tickborne illnesses for dogs?
The clinical signs for tickborne diseases like Lyme, ehrlichia, and anaplasmosis generally share a lot of similarities. They include:
- Swollen joints
- Lameness, like favoring one leg over the other
- Loss of appetite
- Neurological issues, including seizures
If you're concerned about the health of your pet, talk to your veterinarian! They can run tests and identify the disease and the perfect medication for healing.
As for the tick bite itself, you'll often find engorged ticks latched on around the neck and ears, but it can be anywhere. (Dr. de Jong has found ticks on his dog everywhere during his researches.) You may also notice some redness, swelling, and scabbing after removing a tick from a dog.
How do you remove a tick on a dog?
The best way to remove a tick on a dog is to pluck it off as fast as possible. Here's how:
- Grab a pair of fine-tipped tweezers!
- Grab the tick very close to the pet's skin (as close as possible)!
- Gently pull straight out to get the tick free!
Finding and removing ticks quickly is important because it affects the likelihood of disease transmission. "The tick actually has to bite the dog and stay attached for a minimum of 24, but typically 48, hours before the proteins that cause Lyme disease transfer from the tick into the dog's bloodstream," Dr. de Jong says.
Don’t use any other methods like covering the tick with rubbing alcohol or Vaseline, which won't make the tick unattached on its own!
"The first form of saliva that the tick elaborates is actually a glue," Dr. Kimsey explains. "It actually attaches the mouthparts to the surrounding tissue. The tick can't back out on of its own volition."
Don’t try another popular myth: the hot match. You could singe your dog's fur or even burn its skin. If the mouthparts (or what some people call the "head") get left behind during the removal process, don't worry. It may cause a little swelling, but usually after a while it will resolve itself, Dr. de Jong says.
How can you prevent tick bites on dogs?
There are two ways to prevent ticks from transmitting illness to your dog: "You should be vaccinating your dog for Lyme disease and using a good preventative," Dr. de Jong says. "Nothing's 100% and you just want to make sure your animal is fully protected."
Dogs can get vaccinated for Lyme disease, unlike humans. Your vet may decide to administer the vaccine depending on where you live.
If you do not want to use chemical based preventive actions, use SonicGuard ultrasonic tick repellent.
These devices are emitting ultrasound which is keeping ticks away and prevent the bite of the tick which can be used to save your dog from Lyme-disease.