We encounter them on almost a daily basis. As ticks have always been a problem when it comes to dogs, with the changes in climate all over the world ticks are beginning to thrive. Therefore, many are making an effort of increase awareness to the illnesses dogs succumb to when exposed to ticks.
Ticks are vile, blood sucking creatures that can attach themselves to our pets from almost anywhere. It is a common misconception that dogs only get ticks if they are unclean. The truth of the matter is that ticks do not care if the dog is clean or dirty they are only after the animals blood.
Many people look at a tick as just a small creature that will not suck enough blood from a dog to do any real damage, but it is not the loss of blood that can be detrimental to the dog’s health. A tick bite can bring on far more irritation and problems than merely a bite.
Ticks carry a number of diseases. One of the most common is Lyme disease. Lyme disease comes from a tick attaching itself to an animal that is already infected with the disease and then carrying it onto a dog. Symptoms of Lyme disease are a rash where the tick bite occurred. The rash will increase in size and then you will notice a whole host of possible symptoms of the disease.
The dog can have paralysis, become anorexic, fever, and joint pain. The most tragic of untreated cases involves kidney failure. Kidney failure is rare, but can happen if the bite is left untreated for too long of a period of time.
This disease is unlike Lyme disease, in that it primarily targets the liver, spleen, and lymph nodes. The joints can become stiff and hard for the animal to move. They may not want to exercise due to the pain of the stiff joints. The severity of the disease will be determined by the severity of the symptoms. Mild symptoms, such as those described can be treated by antibiotics. More serious symptoms have to be treated with a blood transfusion.
Ehrlichiosis attacks the blood. It can affect white blood cells and severe symptoms from the disease include massive weight loss, meningitis, eye enlargement, kidney failure, and respiratory problems. Severe cases of Ehrlichiosis can be very expensive to treat, so it is important to know the small signs before they turn into a major issue.
Babesiosis is something that many have not heard of. We all know that ticks are parasites themselves, but babesiosis is minute compared to the size of a common tick. They are a parasite that is carried by the tick and affects the red blood cells in dogs. Like the previous diseases discussed, symptoms that this parasite has infected your beloved dog can include weight loss, muscle spasms, anaemia, jaundice, and affect the respiratory system.
Apart from the diseases that can come from ticks and affect your dog, ticks are looking to increase their numbers. Female ticks are very fertile creatures and are always looking for a warm place to lay their eggs. A dog’s fur provides a certain level of protection for the next generation of disgusting parasites. A tick may not look like much, but their bodies are designed to lay thousands of eggs at a time. If that female tick is infected with one of the above mentioned diseases the offspring are likely infected also. This spells very bad news for the animal the tick chooses to attach itself to and lay its eggs in.
Prevention is Key
As with any form of discomfort for our dogs, we have to look for ways to stop a tick before it attaches to the skin of our animal. Ticks are a year round problem, but they are most frequent in hotter months of the year. There are a number of products available to the tick fearing pet owner. Tick prevention comes in the form of collars, topical creams, oral medication, and even sprays. It is important to follow the directions on the package of the prevention method you choose and some of these methods can last up to 12 weeks depending on the level of protection needed for the area the pet occupies.
Pay close attention to your dog during the hot months of the year. Even if a tick preventative has been applied you must check your dog for ticks on a regular basis. A tick can come from anywhere and at any time. Most ticks will come from deep wooded areas, so if you frequent the woods with your dog, check them for ticks each and every after your excursion.
As we all know, everything unfortunate problem cannot be kept from our dogs, but it is our duty as pet owner to do everything in our power to prevent and treat the problems we can. Anyone who has had a tick bite can attest to the fact that it is not fun and makes you feel unclean. So keep your dog safe and do not let them fall prey to those vile ticks.