During their escapades, dogs often enter the territories of ticks, which explains why they are bitten more often than we are. These parasites can transmit pathogens. Find out how to protect your dog from tick bites.
Dogs often pass over the territories of ticks
Dogs are bitten by ticks more than humans. No wonder since our four-legged friends generally prefer to spend their walks exploring the surroundings rather than staying on the marked paths. During their escapades, dogs therefore regularly pass-through areas with ticks. These blood-sucking parasites live mainly on the edges of forests, near clearings, or in tall grass, that is, wherever dog owners willingly take their companions. Passing dogs rave about ticks clinging to their coat before biting them.
Dogs can suffer from infections following a bite
In most cases, ticks do not suck enough blood to endanger dogs. Even when a dog is attacked by several ticks at once, the amount of blood aspirated often remains low. Only a massive stroke can cause the dog to experience severe, potentially fatal blood loss. However, the parasites are vectors of various pathogens such as Borrelia or the FSME virus, which can be transmitted to the dog during a bite.
Dogs are more likely to suffer from tick-borne diseases than cats. The horse’s immune system is also exposed to Lyme borreliosis, but this infectious disease rarely develops in equines. It is not surprising that dogs are infected with borreliosis: in Switzerland, 5 to 30% of ticks are infected with borrelia. In some places, even half of the ticks are carriers of these bacteria. Very often, the first signs, such as fever or loss of appetite, do not lead to the conclusion of borreliosis.
However, inflammation of the joints usually occurs a few months later and the dog begins to limp. In rare cases, symptoms caused by borrelia also affect organs such as the heart or kidneys.
FSME and other tick-borne diseases in dogs
Borreliosis is not the only disease that threatens the health of the dog. However, the few cases known to date have evolved into a severe form. There is currently no vaccine against the FSME virus in dogs.
Other diseases, such as babesiosis (or “canine malaria”) or ehrlichiosis can also be transmitted to dogs through ticks. In some diseases, removing the tick quickly can reduce the risk of infection with help of a tick remover for cats or dogs. After a walk, remember to inspect your companion carefully for ticks and remove them quickly, if any.
It’s all in the art and the way
A tick card makes it particularly easy to remove the parasite. However, be careful not to tear your dog’s hair on the way. Place the instrument as close to the skin as possible and carefully remove the parasite.
If you don’t have one, use small pliers. Use the same technique as with the tick map.
If you don’t have any instruments with you, you can also remove the parasites with your fingernails. Grab the parasite closest to the skin, between thumb and forefinger, and pull carefully.
Do not use alcohol, oil, or glue to remove the tick, as these products may allow pathogens to enter the dog’s bloodstream more quickly.
If you’re in doubt about how to properly remove a parasite, talk to your veterinarian.
After removal, you must be vigilant. Is your pet exhibiting suspicious behavior: showing signs of fever or limping? In this case, consult a veterinarian without delay.
Prevention is better than cure – and that goes for your dog too
To prevent your dog from developing tick-borne diseases, it is best to inspect your pet’s coat after each walk. If a tick is moving through the hair or has already embedded fully ticks on dogs, remove it immediately. Some products act upstream:
- Chewable tablets: in dogs, it is possible to fight parasites from the inside. The tablets help protect your pet against ticks, fleas, and mites. However, these drugs should be given regularly to dogs according to the instructions for use.
- Pipettes: prevention can also be done from the outside thanks to drops of repellent solutions to be applied to the coat. It is important to treat the head well too. These products offer protection against ticks, fleas, and sometimes mosquitoes.
- Anti-tick collar: Like the famous anti-flea collars, there are also effective collars against ticks and sometimes against mosquitoes.