Various tick species prey on dogs and cats, and researchers continue to uncover new ones. When you spot a tick on your canine friend, recognizing its species becomes crucial to understanding the potential illnesses it might transmit and the signs your pet might exhibit if infected.
This piece will discuss the prevalent tick species that target dogs and cats and the diseases they might introduce.
What Are Ticks?
With their eight legs, ticks are bloodthirsty external pests found across the globe. Some varieties pierce dogs to sate their hunger for blood. They thrive in moist and warm habitats, and you'll find particular species exclusive to certain U.S. regions. Factors like global warming have intensified tick populations, territorial expansion, and the spread of tick-induced ailments.
While not all ticks are carriers of diseases, certain ones can host multiple pathogens. When a tick infested with bacteria feeds for a prolonged period, it can transfer that bacteria through its saliva into a pet, resulting in a tick-related illness.
The list of diseases that can be transmitted through tick bites includes:
- Lyme Disease
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
- Tick Paralysis
How Do Dogs And Cats Get Ticks?
At times, dodging ticks can be a challenge. When our canine friends accompany us on nature walks or hikes, they become susceptible to these pests. Commonly lurking in areas like trails, tall grasses, and bushes, ticks are mainly active during spring and summer due to favorable breeding conditions in hot weather.
Drawn by the warmth and scent of your pet, they lie in wait in the grass. When they sense a suitable host nearby, they use their legs to launch themselves onto the dog, seeking the perfect spot to latch on.
Different Types of Ticks
There are types of species of ticks in North America, but only a few will latch on to your pets. Here are some types of ticks to look out for:
- Lone Star Tick
- Eastern black-legged or deer tick (Ixodes scapularis)
- Asian long-horned tick (Haemophysalis longicornis)
- Gulf Coast tick (Amblyomma maculatum)
- Rocky Mountain wood tick (Dermacentor andersoni)
- Western black-legged or deer tick (Ixodes pacificus)
- Brown Dog Tick
- American Dog Tick
Symptoms of Tick Infestation
Ticks employ a crafty tactic: secrete a substance in their saliva, ensuring their bite remains unnoticed. Consequently, most dogs remain oblivious to a tick's presence unless it settles in sensitive spots like the ear or between toes. In such cases, the pet might shake its head or frequently lick the affected foot.
Certain ticks can introduce diseases like Ehrlichia or Anaplasma, leading to bleeding complications. Affected dogs or cats might exhibit nosebleeds or develop tiny, reddish-to-purple spots on the skin or gums, known as petechiae. If you've recently found a tick on your pet, it's essential to inspect areas with sparse fur - like the belly, ear interiors, gums, and underarms - for these marks.
Tick-induced illnesses may present symptoms like swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, fever, or, in the case of Lyme disease, intermittent limping. The onset of symptoms can vary, sometimes taking days or weeks post-bit, depending on the ailment.
When pets fall prey to tick paralysis, it typically sets in after the tick has been feeding for around five days. This can lead to worrying neurological symptoms: comprehensive paralysis, inability to blink, and weakened jaw muscles. These symptoms can intensify rapidly, often within a day or two. The primary remedy is tick removal, and while most symptoms abate within a few days, recovery duration might vary based on the feeding duration of the tick.
What Is the Life Cycle of a Tick?
Ticks undergo four distinct stages of development:
Their lifecycle might span up to two years, with each stage necessitating a different host. While female ticks can endure for roughly two years, males meet their end post-mating.
The minuscule size of ticks in their larval or nymph stages can easily elude detection on a dog's coat. With only six legs, the larva is as tiny as a speck of sand. Meanwhile, the nymph, boasting eight legs, is comparable in size to a poppy seed or a tiny blemish. Their diminutive size makes these stages particularly elusive.
Adult ticks exhibit more considerable variation in size, contingent on their species. Typically, they're about as large as an apple seed. However, when female ticks swell with blood after feeding, they expand to a more noticeable size, reminiscent of a small grape.
Tick Prevention for Dogs
Protecting your pet from fleas and ticks should be a year-round commitment. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advises inspecting your pet daily for any tick presence. Fueled by climate change, the increasing ubiquity of ticks underscores the significance of consistent flea and tick protection and routine tick checks to mitigate the chances of irritating bites and potential tick-related illnesses.
After engaging in outdoor activities, like hiking or camping, it's an excellent practice to launder your attire. This act minimizes the odds of ticks hitching a ride indoors and possibly latching onto your pets. If ticks are rampant in your locale, consider enlisting the services of a certified pest management professional to address the tick problem in your yard. It's crucial to inform them about your pets and inquire about the appropriate time for them to resume yard activities post-treatment.