Ticks are tiny blood-sucking parasites that attach themselves to host animals to feed. There are a variety of species of ticks, and many carry disease, including Lyme disease. A dog that becomes riddled with ticks has the potential to become anemic due to blood loss. While dogs may seem to attract ticks when they’re out in the woods or in high grasses during warm months, there are such a variety of ticks found in nature that precautionary measures against tick bites should be taken year-round.
Where Ticks Come From
Ticks are typically found in brush and weeds, attaching themselves to blades of grass to wait for a host animal, like a dog, to walk by. When contact is made, the tick transfers itself to the host’s body and eventually works its way through the dog’s fur, attaches to skin and begins to feed. If left undetected, the tick eventually will leave its host for different stages of development. It subsequently may find a new host, or in the case of a tick living in a house with a single dog, may return to the same animal. A tick can survive several months in-between hosts.
While many dog owners find a seemingly larger number of ticks on their dogs during warm summer months, ticks can attach to your dog year-round. Dogs and people are typically outside more in warmer weather, which is why ticks seem to become more prevalent during the summer. Different parts of the country are more prone to certain tick species, and different climates host different species of ticks during varying times of the year. As such, it's wise to guard against ticks on a regular, ongoing basis.
Finding and Removing Ticks
A regular visual inspection of your dog’s body can help you to find and to remove ticks before they have an opportunity to do significant damage. Use tweezers rather than your fingers to disengage the tick, using care to ensure the head and mouth portion of the tick do not remain in your dog’s skin. If a tick bite becomes inflamed, your vet may recommend a topical analgesic, anti-itch or antibiotic cream to combat the discomfort.
Protecting Against Tick Bites
Avoid taking your dog into tall grasses and wooded areas, and if you go hiking or hunting, check your pup thoroughly for ticks at the end of the day. Ask your vet about the most appropriate form of tick repellent, such as a tick-and-flea collar or a topical treatment that can be applied periodically to your dog’s skin.