Ticks are parasitic arthropods that feed on the blood of their hosts. They represent an all year round threat with the peak season from March till November. Ticks are attracted to warmth and motion, often seeking out mammals – including dogs.
Once it has climbed up and locked itself in place, the tick will not detach until its meal is complete. It may continue to feed for several hours to days, depending on the type of tick. On dogs, ticks often attach themselves in crevices and/or areas with little to no hair – typically in and around the ears, the areas where the insides of the legs meet the body, between the toes, and within skin folds. While sucking the blood the tick is releasing its venomous saliva into the body of his host.
This can cause skin irritation or a more severe disease. Most tick-borne diseases will take several hours to transmit to a host, so the sooner a tick is located and removed, the lower the risk of disease.
The symptoms of most tick-borne diseases include fever and lethargy, though some can also cause weakness, lameness, joint swelling and/or anemia. Signs may take days, weeks or months to appear. Some ticks can cause a temporary condition called “tick paralysis,” which is manifested by a gradual onset of difficulty walking that may develop into paralysis. These signs typically begin to resolve after the tick is removed. If you notice these or any other signs of illness in your dog, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible so that proper testing and necessary treatment can begin. We also have to mention, so you don’t panic that easily, that dogs have a much better immune system than us humans, and therefore the incidence of these diseases is much less common.
How to get rid of the small parasitical ‘friend’ of your dog that s/he has brought from the woods? There are two basic rules. Firstly, it must be done quickly, because the more time it takes the more the tick is fighting back by releasing venomous saliva/venom into your dog’s body. Secondly, the tick shouldn’t be squeezed during the pulling out because this may cause bacteria and disease-inducing substances to be injected into the body.
- Wear gloves. Remember, your dog’s immune system is stronger than yours. You are the one who is more exposed to a threat here.
- To pull the tick out, I would recommend the tick twisters. It’s easy to use and doesn’t squeeze the tick.
- After tick removal, clean your dog’s skin at the bite area with mild soap and water or special dog disinfection. Check this spot regularly for several days in case of further irritation or infection. If the area does not clear up in a few days, contact your veterinarian. DO NOT apply hot matches, nail polish, petroleum jelly, alcohol or other chemicals to the area. These methods are not effective and can actually be harmful to your dog.
- Once removed, the tick should be handled carefully. Never squeeze it with bare hands or burn it. People usually prefer to flush it down the toilet.
- What happens if the head part of the ticks stays in the skin? The best thing you can do is to disinfect the place and leave it there to dry out. It will fall off eventually and rarely causes complications.
How can you effectively prevent your dog from becoming a host to a parasite? There are plenty of antiparasitic commercial products that will help to keep your dog safe. You can choose from a wide range of collars, spot-on treatments, sprays, shampoos etc. depending on price, lasting effect and your dog’s lifestyle. These antiparasitics belong to basic prevention and should be part of every dog’s outdoor activity especially in summer time. It is, however, a wide-spread myth that the anti-ticks products prevent them from locking in place. They do so, but they die soon afterwards and fall off decreasing the threat of infection. The products don’t stop the ticks from coming, but they make them highly unwelcome.
So what are the options of prevention available in our Furnatura cosmetics line? Here is a brief overview:
- Spray with Geranium or Cedar wood fragrance
It’s easy to apply – directly on skin. These sprays contain only natural essential oils and don’t cause any allergic reaction.
- Shampoo with Geranium, Cedar wood or Shampoo for Puppies and Sensitive dogs
There are only few natural shampoos that have antiparasitic effect and don’t take the shine of your dog’s fur away. Furnatura has 3 shampoos that offer natural antiparasitic effects: lavender, cedar wood, and geranium. You can support their effect by using relative fragrance before going out with your dog.
Do not use too large amounts of a product nor apply more than one at the same time. To minimize the threat, check your dog after every walk, get rid of the attached parasites, clean the bite area and check it in the next few days. But keep in mind that it is primarily you who are threatened by the tick, even though it’s not attached to your own body. With the proper knowledge, you can help defeat the dreaded tick and protect your dog, your family and yourself from the dangers of tick-borne diseases.