Dogs & Ticks

Ticks are not only unpleasant they also can transmit disease. You should examine your dog for ticks any time that they have been in wild or bushy areas. When you are taking out the burrs and other things that a dog can pick-up, run your fingers deeper along the skin to see if you can find ticks as well. On dogs, ticks often attach themselves in crevices and areas with little to no hair such as in and around the ears and the areas where the insides of the legs meet the body, skin folds and between the toes. In California, the high season for ticks is going to be the January to March period and then May to July and this may vary depend on how wet it’s been. In California we do have ticks all year round. Ticks do vary geographically. For example, the ticks that are in Northern California are slightly different from the ticks in the central valley and can be dramatically different than what’s in the Southeast or even the Northeast of the United States. Unfortunately, the diseases that go along with ticks tend to be more general as they are able to use a variety of species of ticks to infect their hosts.

If you find a tick on your dog you should remove it immediately. Many of these tick borne diseases actually take time to be activated after the tick bites the dog. It is sometimes as much as 48 hours for that tick to be getting a blood meal before that disease gets transmitted, so getting that tick off expediently is a good idea. You can get a loop like device like a little noose that can pull the tick off. It’s best not to handle the tick directly with uncovered hands and you can place removed ticks in rubbing alcohol and then throw them away.

A disease that ticks transmit is Lyme disease. There is another set of diseases called Rickettsia diseases, such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and a lot of these disease influences the body’s blood and they can cause fevers. Additional symptoms of most tick-borne diseases include sluggishness, weakness, joint swelling and anemia.

Ticks are very good at holding on so it would be rare for it to drop off unless it already had its full blood meal then it doesn’t really need to bite again so you are not going to have ticks running around in your house. Remember, if you’ve been out in open space with your dog it’s a good idea to examine yourself as well as your dog.

For PawNews, I’m Susanne Savvy