Having a pet means having a huge responsibility in many ways. You as a pet owner are responsible for its health and providing it healthcare. At some point, you may be faced with dealing with fleas and ticks on dogs. As unpleasant as it may be, you will have to do something about it, and quickly.
Threat of Ticks on Dogs
What do you know about ticks? Can ticks harm a dog?
When we imagine ticks, we tend to think of the itchy and uncomfortable inconvenience they cause. But, they are actually quite dangerous to the health of both you and your dog. Being educated about ticks will help you protect your dog from them.
Brown Dog Tick
The brown dog tick is widespread in North America. Also known as the kennel tick, the reddish-brown parasite seems to adapt to the indoors without a problem. Look for this tick between your dog’s toes and around its ears. It has been known to carry some diseases, like ehrlichiosis, among others, that can affect seriously affect your pet. Thankfully, the brown dog tick rarely bites humans.
American Dog Tick
Another very common tick that feeds both on people and on dogs is the American dog tick. These tick swell up after feeding to about the size of a small grape.
Females are marked with a silver spot on the back of the head, so they are easy to spot and identify. The American dog ticks can be fatal to dogs and cause various and serious illnesses in people.
Ticks and Their Habitat
A tick is a parasite which attaches itself to the body of animals, like dogs and even humans. They stay alive by drinking the blood of the body hosting them. They do so by cutting a small hole in the skin and extracting the blood.
What to Do if Your Dog Has Ticks
Dogs can be affected by both hard and soft ticks. Hard ticks are the main group in North America. They are arachnids and have eight legs, a small head, and a large round body, which expands when filled with blood.
Where do Ticks Live?
- Ticks live around the world.
- Tick prefer humid climates. When they find themselves in undesirable weather conditions, ticks hide in sheltered microclimates and wait for better conditions.
- Ticks are commonly found in forests, as the habitat is ideal and there are plenty of blood sources.
- On deer: If you are in the presence of deer, then you are most likely in the presence of ticks. Just one deer can produce up to 500,000 tick larvae in a year.
- Ticks can lay thousands of eggs at a time, so the population can expand very quickly.
Ticks are Closer Than You Think
While people once thought that ticks were only an issue if you lived in wooded or rural areas, it is now obvious that this is not the case.
Ticks have been found in more regions and have managed to infect more hosts than they did in the past.
There are various causes of the expansion of the tick issue:
- One thing responsible for tick growth is changes in agricultural practices. Farms have changed, prompting ticks to seek new environments and adapt their lifestyles.
- Another possible cause is the reduced use of pesticides. While there are many environmental reasons to avoid using pesticides, the use of less pesticides results in more ticks.
- Climate change and unexpected fluctuations have also contributed to tick expansion. Ticks have adapted to the changes, greatly increasing their potential habitat areas.
- Local weather can also influence a tick’s choice of host.
- Another thing to consider is wildlife conservation, relocation and restocking, or unmonitored growth. Trying to protect endangered species is a good thing, but when we ignore other species with rapidly growing populations, we end up with a surplus of tick hosts.
- Reforestation is another contributing factor to tick population. The goal of reducing carbon dioxide levels by replenishing trees is important, but it also creates perfect habitats for ticks.
As the human population grows and we expand our urban areas into once wildlife habitats, we are setting ourselves up for more frequent encounters with ticks and tick hosts.
In order to properly protect your dog against ticks, talk to your veterinarian about what products to use. Regular flea products do not always work for ticks, so you may need something special.
The ideal environment for fleas and ticks on dogs is the warm and furry body of your pet.
Fleas on Dogs
The flea warning signs to look for on dogs include:
- Excessive scratching
- Excessive licking
- Hot spots or scabs on your dog’s skin
- Dark specks in the fur, or flea droppings
- White specks in the fur, or flea eggs
Dangers of Fleas on Dogs
Fleas can be dangerous on dogs because they suck on the blood of your pet. This can lead to:
- Anemia – fleas extract a lot of blood, causing dogs to lose too many red blood cells. A general lack of energy and pale gums are two signs of anemia resulting from fleas.
- Skin disease and allergic reactions – feas inject saliva into the skin when they bite. Hair loss, excessive itching, skin irritation, and scabs are all signs of skin disease from fleas.
An infestation of fleas is easy as female fleas can lay up to 50 eggs each day!
If Your Dog Gets Fleas, You Will Too
Just like the blood of your dog, fleas will feast on yours too! They can, and will, jump right off your dog (or cat) onto you or your furniture, such as your couch or bed. Intense scratching on your part can result in a skin infection.
Fleas and ticks on dogs are not to be taken lightly. They are a serious issue that require immediate care and action.