Having a puppy means you’ll have to deal with the bugs that come along with him. Ticks are among them. Tick bites aren’t always dangerous, but some ticks carry harmful diseases they can transmit to your pooch. If you see a tick on your furry friend, be on the lookout for signs of a bite.
One of the first warnings that your pint-size pooch could have a bite is if you see a tick lurking in his mane, or if you see one on his bedding. Ticks are about one-eighth of an inch in length, which is about the thickness of two pennies stacked on top of one another. They’re flat, like small watermelon seeds, and are red-brown to gray in color, the Atlanta Humane Society says. They turn grayer as they feed and can even get as big as triple their normal size, like little grapes.
A tick bite looks like a small pimple or a mosquito bite: Red and round. Since it can be tricky to see a bite through your puppy’s thick lustrous fur, you can feel for the bite. You’ll feel a small hard node at the bite site, which may or may not be swollen, PetMD states. Ticks tend to feast on blood in areas where your pup can’t pick them off, such as around the base of his tail or between his shoulder blades. These might be the spots where you’re most likely to feel the bite.
Tick bites are serious; they can lead to several diseases in canines. Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis and tularemia are just some of the diseases tick bites cause. If your fur ball gets infected, he could become very sensitive near the bite site, possibly yelping in pain when you touch him. As disease progresses, your beloved pal could have a hard time walking and limp around, since his joints can become inflamed. He’ll lose his appetite, maybe even refusing his favorite treats, and become completely lethargic. Tick-related illnesses can cause heart problems and nervous system complications, and they may be fatal if left untreated.
What to Do
The first thing to do if your fuzzy pal has a tick attached to him is remove it. Pulling out the tick is a delicate process. Squeezing it too hard or tearing it can cause it to rupture, causing infected blood to get into your pooch’s skin. To be on the safe side, take your puppy to the vet and have him remove it. If you see a bite but can’t locate the tick, it’s best to get your pup in for a checkup. Your vet will need to evaluate the site to see if it’s open, look for any fragments of the tick and possibly run a blood analysis to determine whether your budding canine is infected.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.