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Everything You Need To Know About Dog Ticks

By August 02, 2017 | See Comments

Everything You Need To Know About Dog Ticks

Dog ticks can lead to serious health conditions. Learn everything you need to know about ticks right from their life cycle to the best anti-tick products.

How To Keep Your Dog Safe From Ticks

Understanding the Enemy

A lot of pet parents get panicked at the first sight of a tick. To combat a tick infestation you must first know everything about the enemy. Understanding the behavior and life stages of will help you draw up a proper battle plan to eradicate the tick population dwelling in your home and on your pets. Identifying the tick species will also help you understand the types of diseases that can get transmitted.

Let’s start with the absolute basics. It’s a common misconception to think that ticks and fleas are of the same family. Fleas are insects while ticks are arachnids. For people who have never owned a pet before and have never come across this parasite, this is what a tick looks like.

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While different tick species have different colorations and have varied body sizes their basic anatomy is pretty much identical. They are often noticed in clusters where multiple ticks live and feed close to each other.


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Feeding Habits

From the time they hatch, ticks live on an exclusive diet of blood. They have specialized appendages that allow them to attach themselves to their hosts’ and then feed by sucking out the blood. Unlike fleas, ticks cannot jump and latch onto their hosts. They usually wait for hosts to arrive on leaves of grass and shrubs. When the host passes by and inevitably brushes against these leaves the ticks simply climb on.


Typical Life Stages of Ticks

Ticks have different life stages starting from egg to adult bug. A small nymph looks significantly smaller than a swollen adult. Some people thus falsely conclude that their pet is infested by two different species of ticks.


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All ticks have 4 distinct life stages and at different stages they feed blood from different animals. Female adult ticks lay around 3000 eggs on the soil. When the ambient temperature and humidity reaches optimum levels the eggs hatches and out comes larvae. Larvae are really tiny and they usually find small animal hosts such as birds and rats. After feeding on its host’s blood larvae gets bigger. Once fully fed the larvae drop out their host’s body. When they are big enough they molt their out of their shells and become nymphs. Nymphs again repeat the process by latching onto a new host and then detaching again when they are fully fed. Molting out of their shells again, nymphs turn into adult ticks. Adult ticks mate and the female lays eggs on the ground thus beginning a new cycle.


Common Tick Species in America


Brown Dog Tick

This tick species is found throughout America and they are also known as kennel ticks. Brown dog ticks can live and populate outside the host body, which makes it trickier to get rid of. Associated Vector-borne Diseases: Haemobartonellosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, anaplasmosis, hepatozoonosis.


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Lone Star Tick

It gets its name from the easily-noticeable white spot on its back. The Lone Star ticks live in wooded areas often near natural water sources. Apart from affecting dogs, this species can latch onto a human host.
Associated Vector-borne Diseases: Tick paralysis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, tularemia.


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American Dog Tick

Commonly known as the wood tick, this species has specks of white on its back. They prefer to live in humid locations.
Associated Vector-borne Diseases: Tick paralysis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, tularemia, cytauxzoonosis.


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Gulf Coast Tick

Found in the Atlantic coastal regions of America as well as the Gulf of Mexico, this tick species can transmit a type of spotted fever called Rickettsia parkeri rickettsiosis to humans.
Associated Vector-borne Diseases: Hepatozoonosis.


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Black Legged Tick

Often difficult to tell apart from Brown Dog ticks, this species has a uniform reddish brown color. Also known as Deer ticks, this species can find a human or an animal host. Associated Vector-borne Diseases: Lyme disease, tick paralysis, anaplasmosis.


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Common Tick-borne Diseases

Ticks are more than just blood sucking parasites that dwell on your dog’s fur. They spread nasty diseases some of which can get transferred to humans. Ticks are vectors for a range of different health conditions ranging from skin rashes to diseases that can potentially be life threatening.

Some of the diseases ticks can spread: Lyme Disease, Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis, Hepatozoonosis, Rocky Mountain Fever, Anaplasmosis, Tularemia, Haemobartonellosis, Tick Paralysis.

If your dog is suffering from ticks it’s always advisable to seek advice from a qualified veterinarian. Apart from conducting a physical examination, vets can recommend serology and PCR tests to detect specific tick-borne diseases that might be plaguing your pooch. The key to keep your beloved pet safe is to be proactive and seek veterinary help and use proper dog medicine before the symptoms become severe.

Signs That Your Dog Has Ticks

The key to winning the war against ticks is early detection. Being on guard for signs of ticks can help you take the right step before it turns into a serious infestation. Apart from being vigilant it’s also important that you apply preventive products to keep your dog protected all year round. Following are 5 signs that can help you zero in on a tick problem.

  • Nibbling Specific Areas
  • Ear Scratching and Head Shaking
  • Sudden Fever
  • Feeling Tiny Bumps on Your Dog’s Skin
  • Skin Rashes and Scabs

Know Your State’s Tick Season

In most warm tropical regions ticks are a perennial problem. However, their activity does seem to slow down in places where the mercury drops below a certain point. When the cold weather hits, ticks usually die, go into hiding, or become dormant. The survivability of newly-hatched tick nymphs depend greatly on the temperature and humidity. A warm and moist climate drastically improves their chances to survive, which leads to a population explosion. Checkout the map to know your state’s tick season.


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Pet parents also need to be aware of the fact that different tick species behave differently to temperature change. For example, Lone Star ticks and brown dog ticks become inactive during colder months but adult deer ticks can remain active for as long as the temperature is above freezing. As a general rule of thumb, pet owners need to be extra cautious in the warm seasons and take proper precautions.

Tips to Prevent Tick Infestation This Sunny Season

Instead of combating a tick problem when it happens, taking proper preventive measures to reduce the chances of an infestation is the best way to keep your pet safe from vector-borne diseases. We already talked about how ticks latch onto leaves and vegetation waiting for an opportunity to climb on as your pet brushes past. You need to take the fight to them before they ever get the chance to infest your pet. Here’re a few ways to prevent a tick infestation this season.

Home and Backyard Treatment for a Tick-Free Environment

The key to keeping your pet safe from ticks is to create an environment that does not allow the parasite to survive. Ticks can often make their way into your lawn riding on rodents and other animals. Apply quality home and backyard pesticide products to create an invisible tick-free bubble around your home. You can buy and use home and backyard treatment products or simply use diatomaceous earth. You should also consider keeping your backyard and home as dry as possible because ticks prefer humid habitats over dry ones.

Tick Shampoos and Products Create an Invisible Barrier

There are plenty of sprays and shampoos out there that can cleanse your dog’s coat as well as provide a repelling action against invading ticks. Adding these products to your dog’s regular grooming routine will drastically reduce the chances of future tick problem. Most quality tick preventive products are made using tea tree oil, peppermint oil, and other natural ingredients, making them completely safe for long term use.

Use Tick Collars for 24-Hours Protection

Tick and flea collars are highly effective in repelling ticks and fleas. Depending on the brand, a single collar can remain effective for up to 6 months. This invisible shield keeps on working in the background and when used in combination with the first two preventive tips, it creates an impregnable anti-tick barrier.

Search and Destroy

You can search for ticks while playing with your dog by running your fingers through its fur. Keep a lookout for abnormal bumps. These can very easily be ticks latching on to your dog’s skin. If you follow the above 3 tips there is little chance you will find anything. However, it’s wise to remain vigilant.

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