How to Help Your Dog with Ticks - a Complete Guide
Last updated: April 2, 2022
Every pet parent, whether old or new, will agree on one fact - ticks are a menace! Unfortunately, ticks are part and parcel of a dog’s life and no matter how hard you try, your dog will at some point come into contact with ticks. Read on to figure out how to help your dog with ticks.
- 1) What are Ticks?
- 2) Why Do Dogs Get Ticks?
- 3) Steps to Removing a Tick from Your Dog's Skin
- 4) Can Ticks Make My Dog Sick?
- 5) How to Prevent Ticks in the Future?
- 6) Tackle Ticks With Care
What are Ticks?
Ticks are minuscule parasites belonging to the arachnid family. They look like tiny spiders with balloon-like bodies that swell up when engorged with blood. There are primarily two kinds of ticks found in the United States - the Ixodidae (Ixotid) or the hard ticks and the Argasidae (Argasid) or soft tick but there are over 850 species of these arachnids.
You can tell the difference between the two kinds by just taking a closer look at them. The hard-shelled ticks move faster and their legs, as well as their shells, are fairly visible to the naked eye. The soft-shelled ticks look like little black sesame seeds. If you observe them closely, it may seem like they’re not moving at all but the damage is already being done.
Like most species of the insect world, ticks develop in four stages: egg, larva, nymph, and adult. While ticks thrive in warm and humid temperatures, they can be found throughout the year.
Why Do Dogs Get Ticks?
Despite all the grooming, bathing, and cleaning you put your pet through, ticks always find their way onto your dog’s body. While it may seem strange, there’s a logical enough explanation for this.
Ticks usually hide in shrubs, bushes, and grassy areas and they can easily climb tall grass and bushes to attach themselves to a passing host. When you take your dog out for walks daily, even if it’s around your neighborhood, there’s a high chance that your dog will pick up a tick or two. Dogs tend to venture into shrubbery and thick foliage, especially when they want to do their business and that’s the perfect time for ticks to latch on. If you have a garden or a lot of plants in your yard, ticks can come from there too.
While ticks can latch onto just about any part of the body they are usually found between the toes, beneath the joints, and around the face and ears.
Steps to Removing a Tick from Your Dog's Skin
If you are wondering how do I get rid of my dog’s ticks then the steps given below will help you.
Identify a Tick
While prevention is better than cure, you need to destroy a tick the moment you find it. The key is to inspect your dog thoroughly each time you return from a walk outdoors, especially if your route has taken you through a wooded area or dense shrubbery.
Sit down with your dog and slowly run your fingers across your dog’s fur, leaving no area or spot out. Make sure you press deep enough to feel the skin, because ticks on a dog can feel like little lumps on the skin.
When you find a tick don’t be tempted to pull them out with bare hands or crush it between your fingers because a tick’s blood can be dangerous. Always wear gloves, preferably rubber or surgical, and remove ticks using tick removal tools or a pair of tweezers.
You don’t want to accidentally remove only half of the tick. The best way to remove a tick using tweezers is to remove it whole. Vets advise gently grasping the tick by the head and pulling it straight outward. Once the tick is out, dab an antiseptic solution to the area to keep inflammation and infection at bay. Some vets recommend the application of topical antibiotics on the bite area.
Using a Tick Remover
Tick removers like spot-on treatments, creams, powders, and shampoos are effective enough to kill ticks instantly. These include active formulas such as pyrethrin, permethrin, and fipronil. Most tick sprays, tick powders, and topical creams contain pyrethrin which helps destroy the tick almost immediately. So, the next time you buy tick-killing products, look out for these active ingredients.
There are many home remedies that you can resort to, also. Neem oil, for instance, is an age-old hack that wards off ticks naturally. Another oil that is known to work wonders when it comes to eliminating ticks is Eucalyptus oil. Homemade concoctions made up of cinnamon, cloves, apple cider vinegar, mint, baking soda, and witch hazel can also do the job. These home remedies kill ticks on dogs effectively since the ingredients contain acids and other repelling agents.
Once you have completed tick removal treatments, make sure you bathe your dog using an anti-tick or anti-flea shampoo. Dry them off well and then brush the coat gently but continuously so the dead ticks fall off. Ideally, repeat the bath once every 10-14 days until you are sure your pet is completely free of ticks.
Cleaning up your dog’s bedding and its immediate surroundings is part of the tick elimination process and requires a 360° approach. Wash or vacuum the carpets, bedsheets, sofa, or any furniture that your pet uses. Consider dusting anti-tick or flea powder on your dog’s bedding including the blanket.
Clean your home and keep the bushes and trees in your backyard trimmed. In case of severe infestation, consult your veterinarian immediately.
Can Ticks Make My Dog Sick?
Yes, ticks can make your dog seriously ill if the infestation is not treated at the right time and in the correct manner.
Ticks are known to cause, carry, and spread several diseases. Some of these diseases are almost like bacterial infections wherein the symptoms show up instantly. On the other hand, some tick-induced diseases affect your dog’s health gradually and they are often hard to detect until your dog falls sick.
A natural result of excessive blood loss, Anemia usually happens after a severe infestation or if the issue has been left untreated for long.
Usually caused by black-legged ticks or deer ticks, tick paralysis can affect your dog’s respiratory and nervous systems. Common symptoms of tick paralysis are weakness, hind leg weakness, respiratory disorders, and overall paralysis.
Caused by the tick-borne bacteria, Borrelia, Lyme disease affects many dogs. It shows up as flu-like symptoms in the initial phases and slowly worsens. Your dog may experience extreme joint pain and even paralysis. Lyme disease can affect humans, too.
Some of the other diseases caused by ticks are Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis, Meningoencephalitis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) and if not treated immediately they can cause extreme damage.
How to Prevent Ticks in the Future?
Once you’ve spotted the ticks and treated your dog for them, you need to work out some preventive measures to help your dog with ticks. Here are some tips on preventing tick infestation.
There are several chewable tick tablets in the market that kill ticks, including embedded ticks, within twelve hours of consumption. The best part? They are a painless way to remove ticks from dogs, and a single dose is known to keep ticks away for at least 3 months.
Other oral medicines are also used in the treatment of ticks. But, rather than going for over-the-counter medicines, it is always recommended that you consult your vet.
Most dogs, irrespective of breed, are very uncooperative when it comes to taking meds and you might find yourself losing the battle. The following tricks will come in handy if you’re wondering how to give your dog medicine.
Tick collars are easily available in most of your standard pet stores. However, these collars are effective in keeping ticks away from the head and neck. Some dogs may develop an allergic reaction to the collar, so watch your pet for signs of discomfort like excessive scratching. Ensure you read the labels before selecting a collar and cut off any excess length so your dog does not chew on it.
Inspect Your Garden
If your dog spends time outdoors in the garden or the yard, treat your plants with anti-tick solutions to ward off ticks. Get hold of nematodes that are specifically used for ticks and spray them over all your plants, including the leaves, stems, and soil. Nematodes are microbes that release a toxin that kills ticks at all stages of their development. This is a great way to get rid of dog ticks in your home.
Tackle Ticks With Care
Ticks are the bane of a dog’s existence and if not handled with care can lead to health issues for your pet and the rest of your family. The simplest way to help your dog with ticks is to check your dog thoroughly and often. After every walk, spend a few minutes checking your dog for ticks. You can also follow all the preventive measures mentioned in this article to keep your pet and your home tick free.