Most dog owners are aware of the need to prevent fleas in dogs, and heartworm prevention often gets a lot of attention as well. One of the pests that can infect dogs that gets overlooked in some parts of the country, however, are ticks. Ticks can be worse for your dog than you might think, and they can carry many diseases along with them that you do not want your dog to get.
Knowing the symptoms of ticks can help you to notice their presence right away so that your dog might be spared some of the ill effects of these pests. Being able to detect ticks is a necessary skill for all dog owners, even if your area is not known for being a high-risk tick region.
If you are ready to learn more about the symptoms of ticks on dogs, you will need to keep reading.
What Are Ticks?
Ticks are small, blood-sucking arachnids. They live outdoors in grass, on trees, in shrubs, and in debris like leaf piles. Ticks are common in the US, but some regions have many more of them than others. Ticks can cause all kinds of diseases in both dogs and humans and can be very irritating to the skin as well. Allergies and skin damage from scratching at the tick are common, even if diseases are not transmitted to your pet during the time that the tick has attached itself to your pet.
Ticks can be as small as the head of a pin, or they can be big like a pencil eraser. They have eight legs and are related to spiders. Ticks can be reddish-brown or black, which can make it hard to see them in a dog’s coat. As ticks eat, they grow in size and get bigger while also changing color. You might not see a tick until it has started to feed and grow since some of these pests can be very small when they are not feeding.
Symptoms of Ticks on Dogs
1. Scratching and Licking
Many dogs will begin scratching at the place that the tick has burrowed into their skin. This is because of the tick’s movement and feeding can irritate the tissues around it. This might not happen in the earliest stages of the tick’s infestation, but it is a common symptom as the tick starts to grow. Even if your dog is not scratching, they might shake their head or chew at their feet and legs or even pick at their coat.
Licking can be a common symptom in dogs that are not itchy but are still bothered by the presence of the tick. Scratching and licking can be written off as your dog’s normal grooming behavior, but it is always worth it to verify that there is no tick present if your dog has been showing this symptom.
2. Hard Bump on the Skin
Once the tick has started to gorge itself on your dog’s blood, it will get bigger and bigger. This is usually the point at which owners notice that their dog has a tick. The bump will feel hard, and when you push back the hair, it will be obvious that there is a swollen, bluish-black ball on your dog’s skin. This is the abdomen of the tick, and the head is usually burrowed into the skin.
If you do see hard bumps on your dog’s skin that you think are ticks, you will want to take them to the vet to get the tick or ticks removed. Pulling on the tick can hurt your pet and can lead to breaking the tick in half, which will not remove all of it from the skin.
3. Lack of Appetite and Worry
Dogs with lots of ticks might not feel very good, and they could pace or fuss, or they might stop eating. These behaviors are always of concern, no matter the reason for your dog’s anxiety and lack of appetite. This is another case where taking your dog to the vet is a good idea just to make sure that there is nothing more serious going on.
Dogs that are uncomfortable enough not to eat or to pace around instead of resting will need to be examined to find all the ticks that they might have picked up that are causing distress. Your vet should be able to remove all the ticks and give you medications to help your dog feel better almost right away.
Serious Diseases That are Borne by Ticks
Ticks can cause lots of serious diseases in both dogs and humans. Your dog can get Lyme Disease, Bartonellosis, Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis, and more from a tick. These various diseases are not all conveyed by every kind of tick, so your dog might be more at risk for some of these diseases than others, depending on the kinds of ticks in your area. All of these diseases are serious, and some of them, such as Lyme Disease, can have a lasting impact on your dog’s health over the long term.
Avoiding these diseases is important for your dog’s well-being, and you can help your dog to avoid tick infestation by making sure that you and your dog stay out of tall grass and brushy areas during the peak times for ticks. If you think that your yard might have ticks in it, you can also take your dog to the dog park or another groomed location that might be less likely to convey ticks to your dog.
Keep Your Dog Safe from Ticks
Ticks are one of the most frustrating pests to try and treat and avoid due to their presence in the areas that dogs enjoy most. Some parts of the country are more prone to large numbers of ticks during peak tick season, and there are regions of the country where ticks are much more likely to convey serious diseases to their hosts. Making sure that you know the symptoms of tick infestation can make it much easier to keep your dog healthy and tick-free all year long.
For more information about ticks on dogs, contact Orlando Vets. Your pet’s health is very important to us, so we are always here to help. Our Veterinarians can discuss options to keep your pet protected against ticks, and other parasites. Call us today or schedule an appointment.
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