Ticks are dangerous little creatures and there's nothing they love more than nestling under the flesh and fur of a dog and swelling up fat on its blood. Dog owners should be aware of tick bite symptoms, how to expel ticks and what to watch for after a tick is gone.
Ticks are parasites, hiding in long grasses and undergrowth, gorging themselves on the blood of any mammal that they can latch onto, including humans. Dogs make especially convenient hosts, as their skin is soft and usually exposed on their stomachs and groins.
Some ticks carry diseases that can sicken, cripple or even kill your dog. Ticks that don't carry diseases are nevertheless a menace and will drain your dog's vitality along with its blood.
Ticks are most commonly found in the woods and rural areas. Dogs that live in these areas should be checked for ticks every night. If you take your urban dog camping or hiking, you should thoroughly inspect it immediately afterward.
The effects of a tick bite may take weeks or months to become noticeable. Symptoms of a serious tick-related illness include excessive tiredness, inflamed joints, anaemia and temporary paralysis. A dog that displays these symptoms once a tick has been located and removed needs the care of a veterinarian.
There are many shampoos and sprays on the market which can help to protect your dog from ticks. None of them are one hundred per cent reliable, however, so the best insurance against ticks is a careful inspection. A tick will remain on a dog until it is sated with its blood.
Inspecting Your Dog for Ticks
Carefully run your fingers through your dog's fur, feeling every square inch of skin for tiny hard bumps. Once you have identified a tick, remove it with a pair of tweezers. Do not squeeze the tick's body, as this may cause secretions. Make sure you get the whole tick, including the head. Clean the site with soap and water and keep an eye on it for signs of rash or irritation.