Tick Season: Tick season can vary depending on where you live. Summer and fall are generally peak tick seasons in most places. Ticks like warmer climates and the Pacific Northwest is experiencing a surge this year with higher temperatures. Tick prevention is key, and should be maintained year-round, regardless of temperature to keep your dog safe whenever “tick season” starts.
Where do ticks live?
Ticks prefer dark, damp areas low to the ground until they find a warm body to latch onto. Ticks can be found anywhere from the dog park to your backyard; however, heavily wooded areas and tall grasses are where your dog is most at risk. Dogs should be checked thoroughly for ticks anytime they’ve been in a high-risk area.
Where will I find the ticks?
Unfortunately, running your hand over your dog’s body isn’t going to cut it. Ticks latch firmly onto the skin, so you have to search deep within the fur to find them. In fact, ticks can be very small, and you won’t even feel them. They can even look like scabs or warts, which is why it’s so important to know what’s “normal” for your dog.
Just like in nature, ticks like warm, dark areas on your dog too. These are some common places where ticks like to hide:
- Under front legs: You will commonly find ticks in your dog’s “armpits,” where it is dark, warm, and thin-skinned.
- Groin area: Hidden from view and thin-skinned, ticks commonly latch onto the inside of your dog’s back legs in the flank region.
- Between toes: They can be difficult to detect in this location, so be sure to closely examine between the toes and webbing.
- In and around ears: Ticks here can be difficult to find and often difficult to remove.
- Around eyes and eyelids: Surprisingly, ticks will often latch onto the thin skin around your dog’s eye and eyelid. Though easier to find, you need to be very careful removing the ticks.
- Under collar or harness: It’s warm and dark under the collar… Don’t forget to check there!
Ticks can cause illness!
Below are some of the most common tick-borne diseases seen in dogs:
- Lyme Disease: Typically transmitted by deer ticks and is most common in the Northeastern and Southeastern United States. Symptoms include a rash around the tick bite, fever, mild lameness, loss of appetite, and lethargy.
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: Transmitted by American dog ticks, Rocky Mountain wood ticks and brown dog ticks. It is prevalent throughout all regions of the United States. Symptoms include lethargy, stomach pain, and vomiting. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever can be fatal if not treated promptly.
- Ehrlichiosis: Primarily transmitted by brown dog ticks. Brown dog ticks can be found throughout the United States. Symptoms of Ehrlichiosis include fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, lymph node enlargement, and sometimes abnormal bruising.
Ticks bites can also cause a bump, scab, reddening or itchiness at the bite area. While this generally goes away, if symptoms continue 24 hours after tick removal, worsen or are accompanied by other symptoms, contact your veterinarian or give Southern Oregon Veterinarian Specialty Center a call and we can give you guidance.
It’s imperative to stay diligent in your tick prevention regimen. There are multiple prevention methods available and your veterinarian will be able to advise you on what method will be most effective for you and your dog.
Just because your dog has a tick doesn’t mean he’s going to get sick. If you’re using tick prevention methods, then the tick will die before it can cause any harm. Don’t panic! Most of the time, tick bites do not cause your dog any harm. Ticks can transmit disease in as little as 36 hours, so removing them immediately is important.
- Wear latex or vinyl gloves to avoid contact with blood if the tick is engorged.
- Grasp the tick as closely to the skin as possible using fine, sharp tweezers. In one, fluid motion, carefully pull the tick straight up from the skin.
- Check the area to ensure that the full tick has been removed completely. (If a tick is firmly latched on, sometimes the head can remain in the skin.)
- Dispose of the tick by flushing it down the toilet, dousing it in rubbing alcohol or trapping it in a piece of tape before placing it in the trash. Ticks are very hardy and could reattach to someone if not disposed of properly!
- Give your dog a treat!
- Continue to check the site for several days to make sure that all symptoms subside. If symptoms get worse, or you notice inflammation, oozing, or it appears that your dog is in pain, contact your veterinarian.
If for whatever reason you are uncomfortable, contact your veterinarian. Southern Oregon Veterinary Specialty Center is always open for emergencies. We are here for you!