How to Identify Common Dog Ticks
There are several types of ticks. The most common are American and brown dog ticks. Both are very dangerous and can do great damage to your pet's health.
What follows is a short guide on ticks and some suggestions on how to protect your pet from them.
Traditionally, spring and autumn are two peak tick seasons.
Depending on weather and environmental conditions, ticks may remain a problem throughout the whole summer. In some parts of the country, ticks remain a problem year-round.
Common Dog Ticks
The most common ticks found on dogs are the brown dog tick and the American dog tick. Less common are deer tick and western black legged tick.
Ticks have oval shaped bodies and are related to spiders. Don't know about you, but this relation to spiders was a complete surprise to me!
Like fleas, ticks develop in stages.
A tick starts out as an egg. From there, it develops into a larva and then a nymph. The final stage is an adult tick. Adult dog ticks feed on blood.
As puppy ticks develop from stage to stage, they have a number of hosts from whom they can pick up, sometime deadly, infections.
Visit tick bite symptoms to learn how to recognize if a tick infected your dog.
American Dog Tick
This is the most common tick species in North America.
The American dog tick is one of the largest tick species.
Its body is reddish-brown with white or yellow markings. The male tick is about 1/8 inch long, and the female is a little larger. Both will get much bigger after they feed on blood.
Majority of tick paralysis cases can be traced to an American dog tick.
Larvae and nymphs of this species feed almost exclusively on rodents. Grown ticks will feed on many large animals, but dogs remain their favorite.
Brown Dog Tick
This is one of the most common tick species on the world. In the U.S., brown dog ticks almost always prefer dogs as their hosts.
An adult tick usually attaches to the dog's ears or between the toes. Larvae and nymphs are more common in hair along the dog's back.
In the southern United States, brown ticks can be found outdoors during any time of the year. In the North, you'll find them outdoors only during warm months.
Adult male ticks are flat, about 1/8 inch long and red-brown in color. Before feeding, adult female ticks resemble the males in size, shape and color. As they feed, females become engorged and swell to 1/2 inch long and 1/4 inch wide. Males remain the same size.
Unlike American dog ticks, this species feeds on dogs during all its stages: larvae, nymph and adult.
The best way to control puppy ticks is to modify their habitat.
Ticks are common in areas of high humidity - grassy, brushy, wooded, and shaded areas.
To reduce humidity, prune your trees to allow more sunlight to reach the ground, don't let your lawn to overgrow and cut down on the number of shrubs.
Because ticks don't like water, wash areas outside your house.
For years, the only way you could obtain tick control products was via a prescription from your veterinarian. However, non-prescription tick products have come a long way and rival many of their prescription counterparts in safety and effectiveness. They are also less expensive.
The leading over the counter product to control ticks (and fleas) is FRONTLINE Plus.
You apply it on a monthly basis by placing the applicator tip through the dog's hair in between the shoulder blades and empty all the contents in that one spot.
Frontline comes in different dosages, based on your dog's weight, and kills all stages of dog ticks (egg, larvae, nymph, and adult tick).
Unlike some other products, Frontline is safe to use on puppies as young as 8 weeks (majority of products are not recommended to use on puppies younger than 12 weeks).
Oh, almost forgot to mention… Research shows that FRONTLINE Plus kills 100% of dog ticks within 48 hours of application. And it works even after you give your dog a bath.
If your need to eliminate ticks or fleas really fast, I recommend a FRONTLINE Spray.
How effective is it?
It kills most of fleas and ticks in less than 24 hours.
Visit removing ticks page to read more about FRONTLINE Spray.
If your dog has dry and itchy skin, if he scratches himself all the time, try Vet Solutions Aloe & Oatmeal Shampoo.
It's formulated specifically for dry and itchy skin and because it's compatible with all Frontline products, it will not wash off any tick or flea medication!
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Want to learn more?
As a dog owner, you are responsible for your puppy's health. A good source for dog health information, including puppy care and preventive medicine, how to protect your pet from worms and ticks, dog food, and how to recognize if your pet needs immediate medical attention, is the Ultimate Guide to Dog Health.
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I hope you will find this information useful and it helps you to recognize some common dog health problems your pet may be experiencing. However, if you suspect your pet is ill, immediately contact your veterinarian. He or she will be able to help you decide the best course of action when it comes to caring for your pet.