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Smart Tips on Ticks

Ticks are nasty little parasites that can cause big problems to our pets; including death.  And with summer just around the corner tick activity will be on the rise, threatening the health of our pets.  At VetShopMax we have compiled a Smart Tips On Ticks Guide; to help you avoid the dangers of these pesky parasites this tick season.

Types of Ticks

Deer Tick (a.k.a Western Black Legged Tick):

  • Primarily found in the Northeast, in the upper Midwest and along the Northwest coast of the United States.
  • Half as large as the American Dog tick and measuring about the size of a sesame seed, female adult ticks are red and black, while males are black.
  • Humans, who are accidental hosts of deer ticks, may contract Lyme disease from tick bites with symptoms including rash at infected site, fever, fatigue and joint pain.

American Dog Tick:

  • Orangish brown in color with white and yellow markings; but can change to rust or brown red following feeding.
  • Largest of the eastern wood ticks.
  • Can be found throughout central and eastern United States.
  • Can infect humans with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, a disease caused by infection with Rickettsia rickettsii, a type of bacteria.

Brown Dog Tick:

  • Small, and red-brown in color.
  • Found throughout the United States and Canada although they are encountered more frequently in the southern states, particularly Florida.
  • Unlike other ticks the Brown Dog tick can complete its entire lifecycle indoors thus enabling it to establish itself in colder climates.
  • Prefers to feed on dogs during all stages of its life.

Lone Star Tick:

  • Found throughout the south-eastern and south-central states in the U.S.A.
  • Connected with the transmission of Southern Tick Associated Rash Illness (STARI).
  • Females have a single white spot; males have spots and white streaks on the edge of their body.
  • Similar in size to deer ticks.

Take Away Ticks

1.    Don’t try to look for ticks, try to feel for them instead.  Ticks are a lot easier to find if you rub your fingertips through your pet's coat rather than if you try to look for them. Your pet will enjoy the patting and rubbing too!

2.    Be systematic with your search. Start from one end of your pet and slowly but carefully make your way to the other end.  The majority of ticks are found forward of the front legs, around the ears, neck and face, however they can also be found between toes, armpits and your pets anus so make sure you check their entire body.  If you do this daily, there is a greater chance that you will find ticks and eliminate any chance of tick paralysis.

3.    If you find a tick, with a pair of tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and twist and swivel the tick out. Once the tick has been removed, have your dog or cat checked out by a veterinarian or at least discuss it with them even if your pet appears totally healthy.  And if you are in any doubt about safely removing a tick from your dog, seek veterinary assistance. Remember when one tick is found others may be hiding somewhere else so please keep checking!

Tick Toxicity and Treatment

As responsible pet owners it’s important that we are aware of ticks and that we actively protect our dogs from these dangerous parasites.  Tick toxins are secreted into dogs as the ticks suck their blood.  This toxin affects the nervous system leading to a number of symptoms and potentially death. 

Signs of tick toxicity may include:

  • A change in voice; the bark  changes pitch and/or becomes softer
  • Weakness in the back legs
  • Loss of balance and a tendency to sit down suddenly
  • Unusual and/or laboured breathing
  • Vomiting and excessive salivation
  • Inability to stand up
  • Incontinence (due to paralysis)

Be aware that it may be days after the tick has attached to your pet for the signs of poisoning to appear.  Please seek urgent veterinary attention if you suspect your pet has been poisoned by a tick. During the tick season it is extremely important to perform daily checks on your pet alongside treating them.  Many pet owners find that using a combination of products, including K9Advantix or Frontline Plus every two weeks, in combination with a Preventic Tick Collar or  Kiltex Tick Collar, provides your pet with the best protection.