Kick away the Dog ticks

Grooming, last updated 10th, Apr 2013, Kritika Manchanda


Rambo has been itching uncontrollably and Raisin has red spots all over her tummy. These can be signs of ticks and fleas which if not controlled on time can be fatal.

Ticks are external parasites that thrive on the blood of mammals and birds. They extract blood by making a small hole in the top layer of the skin of the host. Ticks and fleas can take up to 15 times their own weight in the form of blood. This clearly shows that they extract a large amount of blood from our canine friends. While these ticks and fleas are feeding they inject saliva into the dog’s skin. The proteins in the saliva are allergenic and the dog would end up developing an allergy. Rashes, redness and itching are a common feature. Since they are blood sucking parasites, puppies often become anaemic. Signs like lack of energy, lethargy, and pale gums show that the dog may be suffering from flea-induced anaemia.

The complications that ticks may cause include - blood loss, anaemia, skin infection, inflammation, tick paralysis, tapeworm infections and tick fever.

Ticks usually flourish in warm and humid climates because they need a certain amount of moisture to keep them hydrated. That is one reason that we see our furry babies being infested by ticks usually in the summer and monsoon. Dogs are infested by ticks usually when they are out in the open. Yards, gardens and bushes are a great breeding ground for these parasites and even if one of them hops onto your pooch the female would lay eggs and an army of ticks would be ready within days…

Symptoms –

·         Excessive scratching or licking

·         Redness and inflammation

·         Flea dropping (fine black specks) in the pooch’s fur

·         Tick eggs (white coloured) in the fur

·         Hot spots on the skin

Life stages –

1.    Egg

2.    Six-legged larva

3.    Eight-legged nymph

4.    Adult

Once the egg hatches, the tiny larva, also known as seed tick feeds on an appropriate host. The larva then develops into the larger nymph. The nymph keeps feeding on the host and turns into an adult. Depending on their species their lifespan ranges between several months to years.

There are two groups of ticks – hard ticks and soft ticks.

Hard ticks (common dog ticks) have a hard shield behind their mouth which is often mistaken as their head. Unfed hard ticks resemble a seed in their appearance.

Soft ticks do not have the shield and resemble a raisin. These usually feed on birds and bats and are encountered rarely.

Signs of tick borne diseases –

Usually it would take several hours for the tick borne illness to get transmitted to the host. Thus the sooner they are located and remove the risk of infection is lowered.

·         Loss of appetite

·         Lack of energy

·         Fever and fatigue

·         Diarrhoea

·         Pain in joints/ stiff joints

Checking –

Regular checking is a must. Ticks and fleas are visible to the naked eye which makes them easier to spot.  Make sure you check in between the toes, behind the ears, near the neck, head and tail and under the armpits. Just run your fingers and if you feel a bump, pull the fur apart and only then remove the tick. They would vary in size and colour depending on how long it has been attaching. Mostly ticks are black and brown in colour around the size of a rice grain but as they keep feeding the colour changes to greyish white and grow to become grape sized.

Removing –

Once you have checked for the presence of ticks it is important that you remove them very carefully. While removing if a part breaks off and remains attached to your dog’s skin it may cause infection later. An important part to note is that while removing the tick, hold it very close to the skin. Only use tweezers to pull the tick out straight without twisting or jerking. Make sure you do not squeeze the engorged body as this may cause disease causing bacteria to be injected directly into the host. Don’t forget to disinfect the area properly. The best way to discard them is to flush them down.

The market is filled with products that can be used as a preventive method to get rid of ticks and fleas. One of the most effective products is the tick collar. It prevents ticks from attaching and kills he one that are already on the dog. The list is long – anti tick soaps and shampoos, flea removal powders, sprays, fine combs and more.

Here are some specific products that you might find useful –

·         Flick out tick treatment spray

·         Savapet Fiprofort Plus Spot On for small, medium and large dogs

·         Tikfite anti tick dog shampoo

·         Tikfite anti lice dog and cat powder

·         Savapet Fiprofort spray for dogs

·         Scabovate anti tick soap

·         Advantix ticks and flea remove

·         Flea dog comb

·         Freedom tick and flea spray

·         Kiltix Collar

·         Frontline plus tick and flea protection

·         Tick away forceps

·         Protektor dog tick and flea remover

Prevention is better than cure –

Now that you know what and how of ticks, it would be rather easier for you to handle this ticky situation.

·         Try to keep your dog away from bushes and shrubs

·         Run your fingers through the fur every day and keep a tab on lumps

·         Ticks should be removed right away in order to prevent transmission of pathogens

·         Once infested it becomes difficult to control ticks, thus take all preventive measures to make sure that your dog is safe

·         Look out for the signs and symptoms and take your pet to the vet if the situation worsens as tick borne diseases may be fatal

·         The best preventive way is to comb or brush your pet’s coat every day for about 15 minutes. This would not only help keep ticks and fleas away but would be a great                          bonding activity with your pet

·         If you cannot control the situation even with the required products, it would be best to consult the vet, after all the vet knows the best for your beloved

So shower them with love and affection and kick away the ticks…

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Saurabh Monga

By: Saurabh Monga | 18 Apr 2013