Dog Ticks
dog training

Dog Ticks

As most dog owners know it is just a question of time until a dog gets a visit from a tick, especially if one lives close to nature. The dog tick is an arachnid parasite that feeds on the blood of its host. A common misconception is that dog ticks wouldn’t feed off humans, that is wrong since all kinds of ticks will feed upon all kinds of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. The tick does not colonize as a flea but attaches itself to the host just long enough to feed and then falls off. This fact can make the dog tick somewhat difficult to detect and it is therefore crucial to check the dog for ticks on a regular basis. As the ticks feed they will grow bigger and will be easier to detect and remove.

Dog tick – Lifecycle

The life of a tick begins with an egg, within the egg is a larva and once hatched the larva will search for food. Usually the larva doesn’t travel very far before it encounters a suitable host. Rats, mice and small birds are the most common hosts for the tick larvae not only for their size but as they will provide the tick larva with protection since most of these animals are living sheltered. Once the larva is full it will drop of and transform into a nymph which actually looks like a really small tick but with only six legs. The tick nymph is very common to find on humans and on their household pets, including the dog. Like the tick larva the nymph will feed on the blood of its host for as long as is needed. When it is full the nymph will fall off and go through one final transformation, becoming an adult tick ready to mate. The adult tick will need to feed before breeding and although humans are rare as hosts, dogs are not. Otherwise the tick will try to find a larger mammal such as a bear or deer to be their host. After mating the female tick will lay over 3.000 eggs which will become new larvae. The lifecycle of the tick is complete.

Dog tick – Diseases

As the dog tick larva usually feed on the disease carrying rats and mice, it is most common that the tick will become a reservoir for diseases. Although dogs are immune to many of the diseases that are spread by the tick there still are a few that are dangerous. As always a dog should be taken to a veterinarian if it is showing signs of disease. If a tick recently been detected or removed, the veterinarian should be informed of this. Usually it is nothing serious but one wouldn’t want to risk anything when it comes to a canine companion.

Dog tick – Removal

The mouth of the dog tick is formed somewhat like a harpoon and is used to anchor itself in place when feeding, something that makes the tick a little bit tougher to remove. Over the years there have been lots of different recommendations when it comes to removing a tick but all has been proven to be ineffective and put the host in unnecessary risks. The best, fastest and most efficient way is to grab the tick as close to the hosts skin as possible, using a pair of tweezers, and then slowly but yet firmly pull the tick straight out in one motion. Don’t yank, twist or anything like that. Just one firm motion and it is all over.

Dog tick – Control

Normally found in the wild, the dog tick is not likely to infest a house in a manner that many other pests will. There is actually no real need for controlling the tick population in a certain area. It is possible to do so though, if you really want to. Providing mice and rats with building materials for their homes is pretty easy as they will pick up anything usable. Then if the building materials are sprayed in beforehand with chemicals lethal to ticks, the tick larvae will be killed as it is carried to the poisonous home of the rats or mice. No one said it was easy, but it is a way.

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