Tick Bites On Dogs

Tick Bites On Dogs

Ticks are unpleasant modern day’s vampires that feed on the blood of their victims. Unlike vampires, however, ticks tend to keep their hosts alive when they feed. However, it doesn’t mean that you can take a tick bite on a dog lightly. Indeed, the pesky parasites can cause a variety of health risks, both for you and your pet.

Preventing ticks is a priority of dog owners who are concerned about health complications. Ticks are vectors of viruses and bacteria which can enter the blood system of your dog – and your own. Consequently, it’s crucial to understand how to remove a tick from a dog and how to keep your pet safe. Here is everything you need to know about tick bite on dogs.

What does a tick look like?

A tick is an 8-legged bug that is typically inactive during the colder months of the year. Unfortunately, the global warming situation is causing ticks to adapt and stay active for longer. As a general rule of thumb, ticks become more active during spring and early summer. Their activity slows down at the peak of summer, but they experience a rise of activity during the autumn.

You will find two main types of ticks in the UK and Ireland, namely hard and soft ticks. Hard ticks, called the Ixodidae species, are frequent occurrences among cats and dogs. The most common Ixodidae in the UK includes the sheep tick, hedgehog tick, and the British dog or fox tick. A dog tick is very tiny at first. However, they can swell to the size of a pea once they feed on your dog’s blood.

How to spot a tick bite on a dog?

Tick bites are easy to spot on dogs because, more often than not, the tick stays attached to the skin. As such, they become large enough to be visible as they feed. They can be as small as a brown pinhead at the start of the feeding stage, but, as mentioned, they can swell up in size. They may be confused for small skin lumps, at first, but you should be able to spot the legs. As dog ticks swell, they can look like small, grey warts.

If you are worried about a tick bite on your dog, you are more likely to find ticks around the neck area and the head of your pet. However, you should also pay attention to the legs, paws, armpits, and groin where ticks can hide easily. On long-haired dogs, it’s important to proceed with in-depth checks, both visual and tactile.

What diseases can be spread by ticks?

As mentioned, ticks can be vectors of diseases, which they can transmit via a tick bite. In some cases, a dog can also get infected by accidentally swallowing a tick.

It’s hard to talk about tick bites without thinking about Lyme disease. Lyme disease in dogs is the most commonly transmitted disease in the UK. However, it’s good to know that it could also affect humans. Lyme disease doesn’t affect every dog that is bitten by a tick. Some animals in the UK already have antibodies in their blood. However, in some cases, dogs can become ill following a tick bite. Due to the incubation period, it can happen several weeks or months after the bite. Typical signs of the disease in dogs include painful and swollen joints, lethargic behaviours, and fever. In extreme cases, it can also affect the dog’s kidneys. Dogs don’t display the typical bull’s eye symptom that we know from human exposure to Lyme disease.

A tick bite on dogs can also transmit another parasite, Babesia, which can destroy red blood cells. Babesia can lead to anaemia, and in severe cases, it can cause bleeding disorders and multiple organ failure. The parasite used to be found in continental Europe. However, Babesia is now appearing in dogs within the southeast region of England.

How to remove a tick from a dog?

A lot of dog owners tend to follow online tutorials for tick removal. While there is nothing wrong about that, if you want to remove a tick from a dog safely, you need to invest in the right equipment. You can find tick tweezers at your vet and in specialist shops to ensure that you can get rid of the entire tick, including the mouth that is attached to your dog’s skin. Don’t be tempted to use alcohol to doze off the tick for manual removal with a proper tick remover.

Alternatively, if you are unsure, you can ask your vet to remove the tick.

Ideally, you want to invest in adequate tick prevention gear, such as an anti-tick collar or vet-prescribed tablets.

Keeping your dog healthy and tick-free requires attention to details, knowledge, and best practice tools!

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