How to prevent and get rid of ticks on dogs
Dogs are prone to picking up a number of small pests and parasites – of which ticks are just one example. Although ticks are usually nothing to worry about, they can carry a few diseases that could cause your dog harm.
Read on to find out exactly what ticks are, what they do, and learn how to safely remove them from your dog’s coat.
What are dog ticks?
Ticks are tiny parasites that attach themselves to your dog and bite them to consume their blood. If a tick has drunk a significant amount of blood, its body will swell up.
Although the most common type of tick to find on your dog is a dog tick, sheep, deer and hedgehog ticks can also be found on dogs.
Are ticks dangerous?
Normally ticks are just mildly irritating for your dog, but some ticks can carry several types of diseases that could be dangerous to their health. For example, some ticks carry Lyme disease, an infection which causes fever, appetite loss, depression and joint problems. Another potential disease carried by ticks is babesiosis, a rare disease that causes depression, a swollen tummy, fever and anaemia.
Rarely, if ticks drink enough blood, they can cause anaemia in your dog. The symptoms of anaemia include fatigue, weakness, pale gums, and appetite loss. If your dog has had a tick and is exhibiting any of these symptoms, take them to the vet. It will be helpful for the vet if you take the tick you found with you.
How to spot ticks on your dogs
The best way to check your dog for ticks is to run your hands through their coat and over their skin to feel for any small lumps or bumps. Ticks can be hard to spot, but the most common places to find them are around the head, ears and neck, although you can also find dog ticks in between their toes or in their tail. If you can feel little lumps and you can also see red or irritated skin, it’s likely your dog has ticks. Your dog may also scratch the spot where a tick is, so keep an eye out for this behaviour.
How to remove dog ticks safely
Although it may be tempting to grab the tick and pull, this may risk leaving the tick’s mouthpart in your dog’s skin, which could lead to infection and further problems. Instead, you’ll need to use tweezers to gently remove the whole tick. You can also get a special tick remover tool from pet shops or at the vet. After you’ve removed the tick, conduct a thorough check to make sure you got the whole tick, both body and mouthparts, then clean the site thoroughly. Dispose of the tick to make sure it cannot climb back onto your dog.
Dog ticks are able to attach themselves to humans, so take care to avoid transferring them to yourself while removing them from your dog. Dog ticks can bite humans and cause diseases, including Lyme disease, so if you are bitten, carefully and safely remove the entire tick and then go to see a GP, even if you feel fine.
If you are unsure how to properly remove a tick, ask the vet for help.
Preventing dog ticks
Although it may be hard to completely prevent dog ticks, you can do your best to prevent your dog from encountering them. Ticks are most common in grass or woodland but can also turn up in your garden. When your dog brushes through grass or bushes, ticks can drop onto them. Although ticks can’t fly or jump, they can still easily climb onto your dog. To try and prevent your dog getting ticks, you should definitely avoid areas like this while walking. You can also buy your dog a spot-on tick treatment or tick collar to repel dog ticks.
Whether you suspect your dog has a tick or not, regular checks and prevention are the best way to stop them getting ticks.
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