The tick is a parasite that frequently attacks dogs, but also humans and many animal species. These mites live in vegetated environments and wait for a host to come within their reach to cling to it and bite it in order to feed on its blood. Unfortunately, the tick is responsible for several diseases in dogs, some of which are fatal. It is therefore better to act quickly to treat them as quickly as possible and prevent their invasion using appropriate gestures and methods. Discover our tips for doing so in this file.
Who is the tick?
The tick is a small insect from the mite family that lives and breeds in tall grass and plant areas. This small parasite attaches itself to animals and humans that pass within its reach. It settles on its skin and bites it in order to pump its host’s blood for several days before detaching itself and falling to the ground. The tick is initially very discreet because of its small size. But as it gorges itself with blood, it swells and multiplies in size until it becomes clearly visible.
The tick is not a parasite which settles on the dog to multiply there and invade its coat and its environment. It is thus distinguished from fleas, lice and other more colonizing forms of mites. It only uses its host to feed on blood. Very present in plant areas, fields, forests, parks and even gardens, it waits patiently within reach of the paws and legs to cling to the first individual that approaches too close and feed on it.
More present in autumn and spring, the tick appreciates cool and humid climates and multiplies when temperatures are between 0°C and 20°C. As a result, it can be found almost all year round.
Why should dogs be protected from ticks?
The tick is difficult to detect in the coat of the dog, but it is imperative to protect the animal from the bites of this small parasite, because it is the cause of many diseases, some of which are serious and even fatal.
- Piroplasmosis: the disease is transmitted by the tick when it is itself infected by a blood parasite which it inoculates into the dog. This destroys red blood cells and causes sudden fatigue, high fever, dark urine and loss of appetite. Piroplasmosis can be cured by means of an appropriate treatment, but it is essential to put it in place as soon as possible, otherwise the health of the dog deteriorates to the point of causing his death in a few days.
- Ehrlichiosis: this pathology is caused by a bacterium transmitted by the brown dog tick (present around the Mediterranean basin) during the bite and which attacks the white blood cells. The animal quickly suffers from anemia, fever, fatigue and bleeding from the nose. If a blood test can diagnose it, ehrlichiosis can cause the death of the infected dog in the space of two days or even less.
- Lyme disease (borreliosis): this infectious disease, caused by a tick bite itself carrying a bacterium of the genus Borrelia, causes high fever, loss of appetite and joint and muscle pain. If it can be treated with antibiotics, borreliosis must be taken care of quickly to avoid becoming chronic.
- Tick-borne encephalitis (VMET): This viral disease is transmitted by ticks infected with the VMET virus. However, it is mainly observed in doggies with a weakened immune system.
- Babesiosis: this pathology is transmitted to the dog by the bite of a tick infested by a parasite of the Babesia genus, which then attacks the animal’s white blood cells.
- Anaplasmosis: it is transmitted to the doggie by the tick already infected by a bacterium of the genus Anaplasma.
How to treat dog ticks?
To treat dog ticks, there are several solutions. If the tick-pulling hook remains the most immediate weapon, other devices are effective in eliminating parasites and preventing their invasion.
The tick hook
The tick hook is the best way to immediately remove a tick attached to the dog. This solution is to be preferred, because it makes it possible to remove the entire parasite, without the risk of leaving the head in place under the skin or of releasing the contents of the tick (and the infectious agents which are there) in the organism of the doggie. It should be noted that tweezers are absolutely to be avoided, as they cannot remove the entire body of the parasite, as well as products such as ether, solvent or oil, which push the invader to release its toxins in the dog’s skin. When the tick is poorly removed, its head and fangs remain embedded in the epidermis of its host and form a cyst that can become infected.
The tick remover is very easy to use, provided you do the right thing:
- place the tick remover against the dog’s skin;
- slide it under the tick’s head and gently pull in a circular or rotating motion, as if you were unscrewing a cork;
- check that the tick has been completely removed;
- immediately disinfect the wound with a solution suitable for dogs;
- remove the tick by burning it or wrapping it in a piece of tape before throwing it away.
Watch the bitten area carefully for some time. If a circular redness forms around the bite, the animal may have been infected with Lyme disease. Be that as it may, in the event of fever, fatigue, loss of appetite and weight, urinary disorders, bleeding or doubtful symptoms in the days and weeks to follow, consult the veterinarian quickly.
Curative and preventive solutions
There are several treatments that can be used to eradicate the parasites present and to prevent their appearance. In curative use, they are especially effective when the animal is attacked by several ticks at the same time.
- Anti-tick shampoos and aerosols: these products specially formulated against ticks are effective in eliminating parasites present in the dog’s coat. However, their action is generally short-lived.
- Anti-tick pipettes: easy to use, they allow a local application to treat the whole body of the dog in the space of 24 hours. If they are effective, the invasion must however be moderate.
- Anti-tick sprays: this solution is interesting for eliminating numerous ticks on an animal that does not like handling or that has a dense coat that is difficult to treat. The action of these sprayers is almost immediate and their preventive action lasts for almost a month.
What prevention against dog ticks?
Ideally, it is better to prevent the tick attack than to have to cure it. It is therefore recommended to protect your little companion in order to avoid the bites of these parasites and the serious illnesses that are likely to accompany them.
To do this, there are several methods and preventive solutions that will prevent parasites from clinging to your doggie:
- anti-tick collars are a good long-acting solution to prevent infestation, but their effectiveness is above all concentrated around the dog’s neck;
- anti-tick pipettes and sprays, already mentioned for their curative action, have the advantage of also being effective in prevention since they ward off parasites for a certain period after administration;
- some of the diseases caused by tick bites can be prevented through vaccination.
In addition to these preventive solutions, certain actions should be taken to avoid the invasion of these parasites or, at the very least, to limit the risk:
- apply a preventive product regularly to ward off ticks;
- do not let your animal wander in tall grass and thickets and encourage it to stay on the paths within the vegetated areas;
- after each outing, check your doggie’s coat and immediately remove any ticks that you detect using a tick remover.