How to Treat Tick Bites on Dogs

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Ticks are tiny little critters that can cause big problems. Your pet can be bitten by a tick without ever realizing what had happened. Depending on the type of tick, these bites can be potentially serious if left untreated. This article will cover how to spot a tick bite, tick removal, symptoms of a tick bite, how to treat tick bites on dogs, and prevention.

How to Spot a Tick Bite

Ticks can be found throughout the U.S. and are commonly located in grasslands and wooded areas. Of course, these are also two areas your dog may enjoy running around and playing in, so the chances of him coming in contact with ticks can be quite high if you live near these areas. If your dog enjoys the outdoors, you should be checking for ticks regularly. While ticks can come in different sizes, you should be able to see most ticks with the naked eye. But, there’s one problem – your dog’s fur provides the perfect shield for these creatures. The best way to check your dog for ticks is by feeling their body for bites. If a tick has bitten your dog, you should generally be able to feel a bump with your fingers.

How to Remove the Tick

If you’ve spotted a tick, it’s important you remove it promptly and carefully – if the tick is carrying a disease (such as canine Lyme disease carried by Deer ticks) contact with the tick’s blood can spread the infection. To remove it, simply treat the affected area with rubbing alcohol and pluck the tick out with tweezers. Make sure to pinch as far down on the tick as you can to remove the tick’s entire body, including the biting head, and pull it out slow and steady. This step is important as it not only ensures the tick is removed in its entirety, but it also prevents any additional fluids within the tick from entering your dog’s body. After removal, inspect the affected area to ensure it’s free and clear. Then, wash it (and your hands) with soap and water. After taking these steps, keep an eye on the area to see if it increases in size. Also, be sure to observe your dog’s behaviors. In the event you notice anything unusual (i.e. any of the symptoms noted below), you should consult your veterinarian to ensure they haven’t contracted any diseases from the tick bite.

Symptoms of a Tick Bite

Because there are different types of ticks, the symptoms your dog may exhibit from the bite can vary widely. Skin irritation around the affected area is a common symptom, but other symptoms such as blood loss, infection, and canine anemia may also be present.

Tick Paralysis

A more serious, and less common symptom is tick paralysis. Tick paralysis is exactly what it sounds like. A neurotoxin produced by the tick gradually makes its way through the dog’s body and the result can become fatal if it reaches the respiratory system. Only the American Dog, Rocky Mountain Wood, Lone Star tick, Deer ticks can cause tick paralysis. However, not all bites from these ticks will result in tick paralysis in dogs.

Lyme Disease

The most serious result of a tick bite is arguably Lyme disease. Lyme disease is a canine bacterial infection primarily carried by the Deer tick. If your dog has been infected by a tick carrying Lyme disease you may notice a loss of appetite, fever, lameness, and depression. Dog paralysis form Lyme Disease can also occur in some cases.

If you live in an area where Lyme disease is prevalent, if you observe any unusual behaviors or any of the aforementioned symptoms, contact your vet straight away and take your dog in for a visit. With immediate removal followed by proper treatment, your dog’s condition will typically improve within a few days.

Prevention

While the method of treatment is clear, it’s always good to be aware of some things you can do to prevent tick bites on your dog altogether. Because ticks typically attract to the head and neck area of dogs, a non-toxic tick collar can be very effective. Collars like these can kill ticks before they even have a chance to latch on to your furry friends. Non-toxic, spot-on treatments can also be effective in preventing tick bites. The liquid (which is applied directly to the skin) contains ingredients that repel ticks and prevent larvae from developing. There are additional medications, sprays, and shampoos available as well. If you’re interested in buying a tick collar or treating your pet with any of these tick prevention methods, be sure to consult with your veterinarian to determine the best device for your dog.

Sources:

  1. Waggener, Natalie. “Signs to Look for If Your Dog Is Bitten by a Tick.” South Boston Animal Hospital, Accessed 2 Nov. 2018. www.southbostonanimalhospital.com/blog/signs-to-look-for-if-your-dog-is-bitten-by-a-tick.
  2. “How to Treat Tick Bites on Dogs.” The Spruce Pets, Accessed 2 Nov. 2018. www.thesprucepets.com/all-about-ticks-1117829.
  3. Eckstein, Sandy. “Dog Ticks and Fleas .” WebMD, Accessed 2 Nov. 2018. www.pets.webmd.com/dogs/guide/dog-ticks-and-fleas.

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