Why Checking Your Dog for Ticks Is More Important Than You Think

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You love your dog, and you want them to stay happy and healthy all year round. This is possible with a little work on your part. Pests present a very real danger to your dog. What’s worse, they can get into your home and continue causing problems. Here’s a closer look at a few of the problems these pests can create, how they get into your home, and what you can do to prevent it.

Wood Ticks: A Common Pest

When you think of pests and your dog, one or two main types probably come to mind—fleas and ticks. Ticks can cause a lot of damage and problems for your do, despite only being active for part of the year.

Sooner or later, it’s likely that every dog owner will deal with wood ticks. You can find these pests practically everywhere in the world. They thrive in the warm summer months. Wood ticks usually hatch early on in the spring and stick around until the frost comes in during the fall months.

Ticks have a life cycle that ranges from three months up to two years. Ticks can’t jump, so they’ll typically climb up blades of grass and wait for you or your dog to walk by. When you do, they’ll latch on to your skin, clothing, or onto your dog’s fur. Next, they’ll look for a warmer place on your body and burrow in. This is how ticks get into your home. They hitch a ride on your clothing or on your dog’s coat.

Ticks feed on blood, and they can feed for several days unless you find them and remove them. They’ll eventually get so engorged with blood that they drop off. This is also the point when the adult lays eggs and dies. Ticks lay thousands of eggs during their life cycle, and they can carry diseases.

The Dangers of Wood Ticks

Wood ticks are particularly worrisome for dog owners because they carry several diseases that they can transfer to your dog. If you’re not careful, these diseases can cause severe health problems for your dog that lasts the rest of their life.

Lyme Disease

The tick transmits this disease to your dog after they’ve been feeding off of them for two or three days. It’s one of the most common tick-borne diseases in the world, but only 5 to 10 percent of dogs affected by it show symptoms. The symptoms can have a slow onset, and this makes it more difficult to diagnose a Lyme Disease infection. These symptoms include:

  • Stiff joints for two or three days in a row
  • Lack of appetite
  • Stiff walk with an arched back
  • Vomiting or fatigue
  • Touch sensitivity

If you don’t catch this disease early on, it can lead to kidney problems, heart disease, and several central nervous system disorders that can be fatal. Your veterinarian may want to run a blood panel to check for the disease. They may also request a sample of your dog’s fecal matter, fluid from their joints, or Lyme-specific screenings. They do have to rule out other problems as well, so this testing can be exhaustive. Antibiotics are the recommended treatment option in this case.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Another common tick-borne disease is Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Like Lyme disease, this can affect humans as well as dogs. Purebred dogs and German Shepherds are more likely to develop Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever than other dogs.

If your dog is bitten by a tick carrying this disease, then they’ll usually start to show symptoms within five days. Some of the more common symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Blood in their urine
  • Staggering or difficulty walking
  • Leg swelling
  • Nose bleeds
  • Swelling or discharge from their eyes

Testing for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is also very exhaustive because the symptoms of this disease mimic several other diseases. Your veterinarian will ask you about your pet’s history. They may request several different blood tests to check your dog for an infection. Skin biopsies are also common.

Once they find the cause of your dog’s illness, they can start to treat it. This is an aggressive disease so your vet can recommend that your dog is admitted to stay at the vet. They’ll give them antibiotics and monitor them until they improve.

Keeping Your Dog Healthy

These common tick-borne diseases can be fatal for your dog unless you intervene quickly. As with most diseases, prevention is better than treatment. Checking your dog each day for ticks and removing them is key. Also, consider using a flea prevention treatment that gives your dog year-round protection. Taking steps to prevent disease can help to keep your dog happy and healthy throughout their life.

Part of caring for your canine companion is ensuring that they have everything they need—even when you’re not around. Reach out to us at Paternal Pet Care to book pet sitting services today.

Resources and References:

All About the Wood Tick | petMD

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever | Pet Health Network

Tick Bite Prevention and Removal | Dr. Jay Davidson

Symptoms of Lyme Disease in Dog | Whole Dog Journal

 

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