Ticks in dogs

Ticks in dogs

March heralds many beautiful things, such as the beginning of spring with the buds of trees developing or the appearance of the first spring flowers. However, it also announces the awakening of less pleasant things like parasites, especially ticks.

What is a tick and where is it mostly found?

The tick is a member of the arachnid family, like spiders and mites. Blood is essential for them, because it helps them to develop and feed.

These parasites like the heat, but they have a great capacity of adaptation, because they can be found up to 2000 meters above sea level. Their preferred environment is places with greenery such as forest clearings, forests or grassy areas.

Are ticks really dangerous?

Yes, they can be potentially dangerous, as some ticks can carry infectious diseases. The most common diseases transmitted by these parasites are Lyme disease (borreliosis), ehrlichiosis, babesiosis (piroplasmosis) and, in rarer cases, tick-borne encephalitis (TBE).

There are various symptoms such as fever, loss of appetite or joint pain, which usually only appear after several weeks. In case of a bite, it is recommended to follow the evolution of your dog's health and, in case of doubt, to call your veterinarian.

These diseases can be treated with antibiotics or with medication adapted to the stage of the sickness. In rare cases, if the disease has not been detected in time, it can be fatal. Note that there is also a vaccine for babesiosis and Lyme disease, but it is not 100% guaranteed.

A quick aside for humans... 😊 As cases of tick-born meningoencephalitis in humans are constantly on the rise in Switzerland, here is an interesting link to the FOPH (Federal Office of Public Health) map showing where bites have been reported and where the vaccine is recommended : https://map.geo.admin.ch.

How to protect your dog from ticks?

  • After each walk in the risk areas, it is important to inspect your dog. The sooner the parasite is removed, the less risk of complications.
  • There are treatments to repel ticks such as pipettes, tablets or anti tick collars.

How to remove a tick from your dog without making a mistake?

  • First of all, your dog must be calm in order to remove the tick correctly.
  • Do not use alcohol or oil to remove it. Such products can make the tick react in the wrong way by releasing bacterial secretions more easily.
  • For extraction, it is better to use a tick hook rather than tweezers or your fingers. This will avoid crushing the tick and therefore increasing the risk of disease transmission.
  • Once your dog's hair is well spread out, grab the parasite as close to your dog's skin as possible (so that the whole body, including the head, is removed). Then, rotate several times until the tick comes off.
  • Disinfect with an antiseptic.
  • If you are not sure that you have removed all the parasite, keep an eye on the area and, if there are any abnormal signs (redness, swelling, etc.), consult your veterinarian.

The info/advice of our canine specialist, Dr. Capozzi, from the veterinary office of La Fonderie ?

Most owners know that spring, the season of nature's awakening, means the return of external parasites like fleas and ticks. But did you know that fleas live all year round? They lay their eggs inside the house, in warm and humid places, and go on the animal just to feed by sucking its blood. So it's also important to treat dogs for fleas all year round.