Come spring, summer or fall, every pet parent is on the lookout for tiny, evasive, blood sucking, disease spreading, hard-to-get-rid-of critters. That was quite a mouthful. But yes, you guessed it. Today, we’re going to discuss all things ticks. The one tiny creature, aside from lice, that can make us shudder and itch just at their mention. So if you, like most pet parents, are a fan of spending summers hiking, trekking, playing with your dog in parks and other grassy areas, then it’s time to learn what precautionary steps you can take.
In the upcoming sections, we’ll answer all your questions, from what should I do if my dog has ticks to when to call a vet.
Table of Contents
What Are Ticks?
Did you know that there are 2000 different types of ticks? And yes, just one is enough to give you nightmares. But what are these creatures?
Most people believe ticks to be insects. However, they are scientifically classified as parasitic arachnids as they share similar features to spiders and scorpions—eight legs and lack of antenna. Unlike arachnids, ticks live on animals. They’re roughly 2mm in size until they feed, and then they can grow to approximately 5 to 10mm depending on the type, age, and sex.
Wondering what could possibly be so dangerous about such tiny creatures? While most tick bites will leave you and your dog itchy and perhaps with a minor rash, some ticks transmit disease. There have been many incidents, such as Texas fever, where severe tick infestation led to the death of yearling cows.
ALSO READ: Reasons Why Your Dog Is Itching So Much
How To Tell If Your Dog Has a Tick?
Given their tiny size, it can be challenging to spot a tick on your pet. At least until it has fed and grown. That said, it is not an impossible feat. All you need is a little knowledge about their preferred hiding spots and some tips.
If you’re worried that your dog has ticks, the best way forward is to do a thorough body search.
No, you don’t need special tools and equipment. Simply run your fingers through your dog’s fur, searching for lumps and bumps that could be ticks or inflammation after a tick bite. Don’t forget the hard-to-reach places, like inside the ear flaps, under the tail, and the underside of your dog’s paws.
And what happens if you find one? Would it then be time to ask, Should I be worried if my dog has a tick? The answer is yes. You should be concerned—enough to take prompt action but not enough to have an anxiety attack.
It takes several feedings over a 24-48 hour window before a tick can transmit diseases to its host. Until then, it’s relatively harmless, and all you have to do is remove it.
Wondering when should I take my dog to the vet after a tick bite? Visit your vet only if your dog has swollen lymph nodes or develops a fever. Signs your dog has a tick include fever, loss of appetite, pain, swollen joints, limping and seizures
Causes of Ticks in Dogs
Dogs get ticks one of two ways.
The first is from their immediate environment. Ticks love to hide in warm, humid areas, making grassy, wooded areas perfect. They aren’t picky about their host either. Which means squirrels, birds, raccoons, deer—any animal can be a tick carrier. So if you live in an area with wildlife and natural cover, expect to find ticks in your dog’s natural environment.
The second would be through interaction with infested dogs—this could be at a kennel, the shelter, dog parks, even doggy daycare.
If you’re a dog owner and wondering, how do you get rid of dog ticks fast, then the answer is to remove it with a pair of tweezers. That’s right. There’s no rigid rule that prevents you from removing ticks on your dog. Before yanking out ticks on your dog, do consider the following tips:
- Grasp the tick as close to your dog’s skin as possible and pull firmly.
- Ensure you do not leave any part of the tick behind.
- Clean your dog’s skin and apply alcohol or ointment to reduce the risks of infection.
Home Treatments for Ticks
Looking for long-term alternative ways to prevent ticks? Or perhaps you need at-home non-chemical options for a mild infestation? Either way, we’ve got some easy-to-use and effective home treatments for you to explore.
Neem Oil and Leaves
Touted for its antibacterial and antiseptic properties, Neem is a great alternative for DIY tick treatment. You can dab a few drops on the affected area or bathe your dog with neem water. If your dog’s skin is sensitive to neem oil, you try neem-infused coconut oil. All you need to do is soak cleaned neem leaves in coconut oil for two weeks and then apply to your dog’s skin.
Lemons are natural deterrents to critters, including ticks. Whether you choose to use lemon juice or lemon peel, both have the medicinal properties needed to get rid of ticks. All you need to do is mix lemon to water (1:1) and spray on the infested area.
The strong pungency of cloves can help drive away ticks. The anti-inflammatory properties of cloves can also help subside persistent itching and discomfort. Need another reason to use clove? Its antibacterial properties work as a natural remedy—you won’t just be removing ticks; you’ll also counter other harmful bacteria.
All you have to do is prepare a mixture and spray it on your dog’s body two hours before you bathe it.
Who would have thought mint could help with ticks? All you need to do is soak mint leaves in water overnight. The following morning, strain the mixture into a squirt bottle and douse your dog with it.
Who said bay leaves could only be used in soups, sauces, and stews? Rubbing crushed or ground bay leaves directly on your dog’s body is the most effective way to safeguard against ticks.
Tobacco contains nicotine, a pesticide. Applying tobacco to your dog’s fur can give you the desired result—freedom from ticks. You can also make a water-based mix or purchase tobacco oil and dilute it.
Now you have all the natural remedies and answers you need to questions like What should I do if my dog has ticks?
Just in case you have more concerns, we’ve put together a frequently asked questions section to help out.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Should I Take My Dog to a Vet When it Gets a Tick?
You need not trouble the vet for one tick. Simply remove it with tweezers or other home remedies at home, as detailed above. You will need to monitor your dog for any signs of disease for the next few weeks, though. Consult your vet in case your pup develops lymph nodes or fever. If you’re a natural worrier, simply ask your vet about blood tests for dogs.
What Happens if I Leave a Tick on My Dog?
Ticks only begin to transmit diseases 24-48 hours after attaching themselves to a new host. It is preferable to check for and remove ticks immediately after an outdoor trip. If you leave a tick on your dog, you risk disease transmission. Ticks will also breed (one female tick can lay between 1000 and 5000 eggs), resulting in a heavy infestation of ticks.
How to Get Rid of Ticks Fast?
Once you spot a tick on your dog, it is important to act immediately. If there are multiple ticks in difficult-to-reach areas or your dog is being difficult, try a medicated shampoo. If your dog is patient, you can also use tweezers to grasp the tick and pull firmly.
Can I Remove a Tick on My Own?
Yes, absolutely. Once you spot the tick, spread your puppy’s fur. Use fine-point tweezers to grasp the tick (as close to your dog’s skin as possible) and pull it out completely. Ensure you’ve not left parts of the tick behind.
Wondering, What to do after removing tick from dog? Apply rubbing alcohol or iodine to the area to prevent infection.
Every dog owner goes through tick troubles at least once in their life. Even if your pup is on tick preventative medication, it can still get ticks, albeit fewer. This makes it important to do regular checkups and take proper precautions should you find a tick on your dog.
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