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