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Why are ticks attracted to dogs likes bees to honey? These parasites are attracted your dog’s warm and thick fur where they can settle in and suck on blood. Tick bites in dogs are very common in the United States, which is home to 90 of the 899 species of ticks found in the world.
Hard ticks and soft ticks
Ticks can be broadly divided into hard-bodied or ixodid ticks, and soft-bodied or argasid ticks.
The common hard-bodied ticks affecting dogs are:
- Black-legged ticks that have a two year lifecycle, and are notorious for transmitting Lyme disease bacteria to humans. In dogs, Lyme disease causes arthritis due to inflammation of joints, depression, appetite loss, and in severe cases, may affect the kidneys.
- American dog ticks are found in all parts of the United States, with their highest population reported in the Atlantic Coast. They cause tick paralysis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which damages blood vessel tissues and causes inflammation. Though curable, the disease can be also be lethal.
- Brown dog ticks cause tick paralysis and a range of bacterial infections in dogs.
The spinose ear tick is the most common soft tick infesting the ear canal of dogs. It causes excessive head shaking, irritation, and pain in dogs. In some cases, tick bite can result in oozing infections.
Where do the ticks come from?
Ticks are active outdoors, especially during the warm months. They are drawn to a dog’s odor, and attach themselves to its skin very easily. Your pooch may also pick up ticks from open fields, an infested kennel, or after coming in contact with tick-infested dogs. Ticks that have enjoyed a full blood meal may detach from the host and reside under window moldings, baseboards or furniture. After molting, they reattach to another host.
How to control ticks in your house
If your pet’s kennel or some part of your home has been detected as harboring ticks, they must be cleaned and vacuumed thoroughly to kill as many of these tiny parasites as possible. Apply residual and non-residual insecticide sprays in areas where ticks are likely to molt. As there are several potential hiding places for ticks, and they hitch-hike on mammals very easily, also consider de-cluttering your home, and washing dirty clothes and bed linens in hot water.
Treating tick bites
If you are up to the job, you can remove ticks in your dog with a pair of tweezers after treating the affected areas with rubbing alcohol. Take care to wear gloves, and grab the tick by the head. There are a number of effective tick control products that kill ticks within 12 hours of application. We would also advise you to consult your vet soon after you detect ticks in your pet, as bacterial infection from tick bites can manifest quickly.