All About Ticks

Tell me more about ticks.

Few parasites arouse such revulsion in dog owners like ticks do! Unlike adult fleas, ticks spend less time on our pets and more in the external environment. Once they have located a host, they attach relatively quickly and start sucking blood. This blood meal generally lasts several days (3 to 7 days depending on the tick stage).

So I should be treating my dog for ticks as well?

Protecting your dogs and puppies against ticks is really important, especially if you’re planning to take them out of their protected environment; on holiday, for instance, or if you take them onto the mountain for walks. Ticks are hard to remove as they attach firmly to your dog’s skin.
Dogs may remove the body of the parasite through scratching and grooming but there is a risk the head may be left in the skin. Tick bite sites can become infected and a local ulcer or skin lump may form where the tick attached.

But the real reason for tick control is not just the irritation they cause, right?

Correct. The ticks carry diseases that hold risks for both animals and humans. Through tick bites, several serious and possibly fatal infectious disease organisms are transmitted to our dogs, e.g. Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, and less commonly, Hepatozoonosis. Ticks on your pets mean there’s a higher risk of ticks on you, and you could consequently contract tick bite fever.

What are the symptoms of Babesiosis?

In dogs, acute symptoms may include pale mucous membranes, discoloured or orange/red urine, weight loss, fever, loss of appetite, and general deterioration. Shock, coma or death after less than a day of lethargy and loss of appetite can occur. This disease responds to a variety of treatments if caught early, although blood transfusion may be necessary in later stages.

And how does Ehrlichiosis present?

Ehrlichiosis is an infectious blood disease that attacks your pet’s white blood cells, crippling the immune system. Symptoms include fever, depression, seizures, meningitis, lameness and joint swelling, weight loss, and loss of appetite. This disease is treatable with antibiotics.

How can I protect my dogs and puppies against tick-borne diseases?

No single recommendation can guarantee 100% protection against tick-borne diseases. A combined approach is required. You need to use a product that is effective against ticksĀ and perform regular visual and hands-on checks to see that your pet is tick-free. Take special care to do this when you’re in a heavily-infested tick environment.

Apply an effective tick treatment on your dogs.

Be careful: products effective against fleas are not necessarily active against ticks. Moreover, the treatment should be administered at the recommended intervals to achieve proper protection.

Check your dogs for ticks.

It is essential that after each outing you carefully examine your dog’s coat and skin for any ticks. Make sure you check the skin folds of the body, inside the earflaps and between the toes. Check the head and neck particularly well! As ticks generally transmit disease after 48 hours of attachment, you will minimise the risk of infection if you kill ticks soon after they get onto your pet.