Ticks are seen most often in pets that spend time outside. Ticks are parasites that feed on blood. They are attracted to warmth and motion, they hide out in tall grass or plants in wooded areas waiting for a host; our pet, or other wild animals that may come by. Once a host is found, the tick quickly climbs on and attaches its mouth parts into the skin and begins its blood meal. Once locked in place, the tick will not detach until its meal is complete. The tick may continue to feed for several hours or even days, depending on the type of tick. On dogs, ticks often attach to areas with little or no hair, and in areas with crevices. These areas are usually within skin folds, between the toes, around the ears, and areas where the inside of the leg meet the body. Most species of ticks have four life stages; eggs, larvae, nymphs, and adults. Any stage beyond the egg stage will attach to a host and must do so to mature. The life span of a tick can be several months to years depending on the species. The adult female tick can lay hundreds to thousands of eggs at one time.
Ticks are known to be carriers of disease, such as Lyme, Rocky mountain spotted fever, and Ehrlichiosis. Most tick-borne diseases will take several hours to transmit to their host, so the sooner a tick is located and removed, the lower risk of disease. Applying a tick medication for prevention, will also act quickly to kill the tick before any disease can be transmitted. The symptoms of most tick-borne diseases include fever and lethargy, though some can also cause weakness, lameness, joint swelling, and/or anemia.. These signs may take several days, weeks or even months to appear. Some ticks can cause a temporary condition called “tick paralysis”, starting with difficulty walking and may lead into paralysis. This condition will usually resolve once the tick is safely removed. Though not all ticks carry disease, the threat is always present where ticks are concerned and should be taken very seriously. Always examine your dog closely for ticks after he or she has spent time outdoors.
The Deer tick, Brown dog tick, American dog tick and Lone star tick are among the most common seen in the North America region. Click here for pictures of these types of ticks.>
When a tick is engorged it will take on a new form which can sometimes be mistaken as a skin tag to the untrained eye. Removing a tick so as not to leave the head attached is a very hard task to perform and is not recommended to be done unless experienced. Your veterinarian can remove these parasites head and all to prevent any further chance that a disease may be transmitted. Using a tick prevention such as Bravecto, Activyl or Frontline will also aid with the prevention of transmitting any disease. These medications will either prevent the tick from attaching or kill them before they have time to transfer any known disease.