Ticks in Dogs

What are ticks?

Although Ticks in Dogs are generally considered insects, they are arachnids like scorpions, spiders, and mites. Adult ticks have four pairs of legs (8 in all) and no antennae. In comparison, adult insects have three pairs of legs (6 in all) and one pair of antennae. Parasites feed on the blood of their host, whether animal or human.

“Ticks carry diseases.”

Carriers of diseases because to feed, they attach themselves firmly to the skin of their prey and suck their blood. They take several days to feed without being detected. By feeding in this way, they transmit a wide variety of pathogens and the infections that follow can have harmful consequences for health.

The tick life cycle

The tick has four distinct life stages

  • Egg
  • six-legged larva
  • eight-legged nymph
  • Adult

Female ticks lay 3,000 to 6,000 eggs on the ground. The adults seek an animal as a host to feed on and after engorgement with blood, they mate.

Male ticks usually die after mating with a female, but they may live for several more months. The females die after laying their eggs. Their life cycle can be from less than two months to more than two years, depending on the species.

After hatching from the egg, the tiny larva, sometimes called a “seed tick”, feeds on a suitable host. The larva develops into a larger pupa. This nymph, in turn, feeds on its prey and then molts into a larger adult. The adult male and female feed and mate on their victim. After mating, the male dies while the female, engorged with blood, drops to the ground to lay her eggs.

How did my dog ​​get ticks?

Ticks don’t usually live on trees. They are found on the tips of grasses and shrubs where they wait for their animal prey. When the plant is grazed and stirred by a moving animal or person, the tick quickly crawls from the plant to its prey because it cannot jump or fly. Some species can crawl almost a meter toward their host. Ticks are active in winter if the soil temperature is above 0°C.

What are the different species of ticks?

There are two groups of embedded fully ticks on dogs: the Ixodidae or hard ticks and the Argasidae or soft ticks. Hard ticks, like dog ticks, have a kind of hard lamella behind the mouth (sometimes called the “head”): the hard tick, when deprived of food, looks like a flat grain.

Although there are at least 15 species of ticks in North America, only a few of these species may be confronted by your dog. Here are some species:

  • American dog tick
  • The American star tick (Lone Star)
  • The deer or blacklegged tick
  • brown dog tick

Other species of ticks may be encountered in various regions. If you need additional information on a particular species, consult your veterinarian.

American dog tick

The American dog tick attacks a variety of prey including humans and dogs but rarely infests residences. Adult females are brown in color with silvery gray spots or streaks on their backs. Females, unfed, measure about 3.175 mm (1/8 in) and when fed, they can elongate up to 12.7 mm (½ in). The larvae and nymphs feed mainly on small rodents while the adults feed on dogs, cattle, various other animals, and humans.

These ticks are widely distributed in North America and particularly in the southern United States and in humid coastal areas. They are attracted to the scent of animals and humans encounter them along roads, trails, and recreation areas. Although present all year round.

The adults crawl in search of dogs or large animals for a blood meal, but they can live up to two years without food. American dog ticks can be found waiting on grass or other short vegetation and when an animal passes by the tick crawls up to it and begins to feed. The males remain on their host for an indefinite time, alternating between feeding and mating.

The females feed, engorge and drop to the ground to lay their eggs. The American dog tick takes three months to three years to complete its life cycle. It is specifically an outdoor tick removal and is dependent on climatic and environmental conditions for the hatching of its eggs.

The American star tick (Lone Star)

The American star tick has varying shades of brown and tan. The female has a single good sized white spot on her back and the male has white spots around his back. When unfed, adults are about 8.466 mm (1/3 in.) in length but fed females can measure 12.7 mm (½ in.). The larvae and pupae parasitize small animals, birds, and rodents while the adults feed on larger animals such as dogs and cattle.

American star ticks live in wooded and brushy areas

During all three stages of their life cycle, American star ticks bite dogs and humans. They live in wooded areas and bushes and are most numerous in brush along streams, at the bottom of rivers and near animal resting places. Star ticks in the Americas are present throughout the year, but adult and nymphal populations peak between March and May. A second hopper peak may occur again in July and August as hopper activity peaks in mid-June or July.

Deer tick or blacklegged tick

During their three active phases, deer ticks feed on a variety of prey including dogs and humans. After hatching from the eggs in the spring, the tiny larvae feed primarily on white-footed mice or other small mammals. The following spring, the larva molts into pinhead-sized nymphs and these brown nymphs feed on mice, larger warm-blooded animals and on humans.

In the fall, these nymphs molt into adults and feed mainly on deer, and the females will lay their eggs the following spring. Females are orange, brown in color with a black crest on their backs. They are 3.175mm (1/8″) long, about half the size of the American dog tick.

The male is dark brown, almost black. Deer ticks are usually found in wooded areas and along trails. Larvae and pupae are active in spring and early summer; adults can be active in both spring and fall. These ticks can transmit Lyme disease and possibly ehrlichiosis in dogs and humans.

Blood tick or Brown Dog Tick

The brown dog tick, also known as the kennel tick, is found across the United States and can transmit ehrlichiosis. This tick feeds on dogs but rarely bites humans. Unlike other tick species, its life cycle allows it to grow and survive indoors. In fact, it is the only species of tick that can complete its life cycle completely indoors.

It is mainly found in kennels, shelters, in houses where there are dogs and it can hide in cracks, behind radiators, under carpets and furniture and on curtains, draperies and walls.

This tick is of tropical origin and does not survive long outside during the winter. The adult is reddish brown and is about 3.175 mm (1/8″) long and when well fed can stretch up to 12.7 mm (½”). The brown dog tick usually attaches itself around the dog’s ear and between its fingers to feed. Once swallowed, she drops from the dog, crawls to hide and lays up to 3,000 eggs.

How to Prevent Ticks

There are many tick preventative products available on the market. Some require less effort from the owner than others. Some are available over the counter while others are only available through your veterinarian. There are effective monthly preventatives that are applied to the skin on the back of the neck or taken orally, which are also a convenient method of controlling parasites. Your veterinarian will make recommendations for keeping your pet parasite-free.

What should I do if I find a tick on me or my dog?

Use blunt tweezers or disposable gloves to handle a tick. If you must use your fingers, protect them with a tissue or towel. By handling infected ticks, infectious agents can be contracted through mucous membranes or cuts in the skin. This is especially important for people who “tick” animals because ticks that infest dogs and other pets can carry Lyme disease, anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis.

To remove the tick with the help of a tick remover for cats, it must be grasped as close to the skin as possible. This reduces the possibility of detaching the head from the body.

Pull the tick with safe, steady pressure. Do not twist or shake the tick head stuck in dog to remove it, as this may cause the mouthpart to break off and remain in the skin, increasing the risk of infection. Keep applying steady pressure even if the tick doesn’t release immediately. It may take a few minutes to come off with a slow pull.

After removing the tick, thoroughly disinfect your hands with soap and water. Home remedies such as applying petroleum jelly or grease or touching the back of the tick with a hot match do not work and are not recommended. These techniques can make the tick salivate and increase the risk of contracting a disease.

After removing the tick, you can keep it in a closed container, such as a pill bottle, for identification. Be sure to write down the time and place where the bite took place. This activity will help you remember the details of the incident, especially if a rash or other symptoms associated with Lyme disease appear later. This information can help the veterinarian or doctor diagnose a disease.

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