Monday, August 23, 2010

What Do Ticks Look Like On Dogs?


Ticks are small external parasites that belong to the family of arachnids, along with mites. Much like fleas, they live by hematophagy, that is, they bite through the skin of mammals and birds, and feed on the blood of their hosts. These blood-sucking parasites are normally found in grass and shrubs, as they wait to find a passing suitable host to attach themselves onto. Because of this, places where woods, grass, or bushes abound are more prone to tick presence. A common treatment and preventative measure is Frontline Plus. frontline comes in 3 colours, frontline plus orange is for small dogs, frontline plus blue is for medium dogs, and frontline plus purple for large dogs.

Unlike fleas, ticks do not have the ability to jump or fly; thus, when they find a suitable prey, they can only climb their newly found host. They then attach themselves onto the host by inserting their chelicerae and hypostome into the skin. This will be their tool in sucking the blood of their host. In addition, ticks tend to be more prominent during warm months, but this may vary by region and climate, and increase in number in places where there are bodies of water.
As in any other parasites, ticks can transmit several diseases, such as Lyme disease, relapsing fever, tularemia, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Victims of nasty ticks may also suffer from tick fever, hemorrhagic fever, and even tick paralysis, and usually show symptoms of fever, fatigue, rashes, joint pain, and body aches.
Because ticks can be carriers of very serious disease and prove to be a huge problem, it is important that you know what ticks look like, especially on your pet dogs. Here are photos of an adult American tick and an engorged tick (one that has already sucked blood).

(Photo source: bugguide.net)
Be wary that ticks do not infest your dogs, because once they attach themselves to your dogs, they continuously suck the blood and do not detach from your dogs until they are done feeding. The blood sucking may last for several hours, or even days, depending on the type of tick.
To check if your dogs are infested with ticks, run your hands through your dogs' bodies, concentrating on the most usual places that ticks attach themselves into. In dogs, these problematic areas are around the ears, between the toes, skin folds, the inner parts of the legs, and any other area that has crevices, or with little or no hair. Look out for raised or swelling areas, and check if there are embedded ticks. (For protection, you may want to wear latex gloves while doing this.) When you find such parasites, remove them immediately by pulling the ticks straight out from the skin. Once done, properly dispose of the ticks. Wash your dogs after the removal to prevent any more infestation. In case of any untoward incident while removing the ticks, consult a veterinarian for other treatment methods.
However, it is difficult to see adult ticks, and infestation may only be known when thousands of the parasites have already attached themselves to your dogs. With such number, treating ticks may pose a huge trouble.
As the saying goes, prevention is always better than cure. Knowledge of what ticks look like on dogs and what to do in case of suspected tick infestation is key to preventing any serious disease that these ticks may bring from victimizing your dogs.

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