TICKS AND FLEAS
TICK IS A RESILIENT EXTERNAL PARASITE
The tick season starts as soon at the temperature rises over 5 degrees Celsius and it lasts until the temperature drops below 5 degrees Celsius. That means that the ticks can thrive all the way into December if the winter is mild. The tick attaches for 3 – 11 days, sucking blood, until it detaches. The most commons place for ticks is in medium high grass, especially at the coast. They wait on the tips of the grass straws or in the undergrowth from where they can easily attach to a passing host. If you find a tick on your dog it is important to remove it as soon as possible. Make it a habit to examine your dog's fur regularly during the tick season.
Ticks should be removed as soon as possible; the shorter amount of time the tick is attached to its host, the smaller is the risk for the dog to catch tick-borne diseases. Use a tick removal tool to get a grip around the tick's head, as close to the dog's skin as possible. Then pull the tool straight up. Avoid squeezing the tick or removing it with your fingers or tweezers since it increases the risk of only removing a part of the tick's body.
TICK RELATED DISEASES
Most ticks don’t carry any disease — and even if they do, the disease isn’t necessarily transferred to your dog. Nevertheless, of your dog happens to get infected, it could have severe consequences. The most common tick transferred disease is Lyme disease and an infection named anaplasmosis. TBE is very rare among dogs.
Anaplasmosis: A bacterial infection often causes lameness, joint pains, fever, lethargy, and a lack of appetite. Most infected dogs will have symptoms for 1 to 14 days; however, some will have no or only minor symptoms. Less common clinical signs include vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, and labored breathing. Rarely, neurological signs such as seizures have been reported.
Lyme disease/ Borrelia: Is cause by a bacteria, it suffuses in the ticks intestines. To be able to infect a dog, the tick needs to suck blood at least for 24 hours. It takes 2-5 months before the dog shows symptoms and most dogs don’t get sick even if a tick has transferred the disease. Symptoms can be fever, fatigue, sore and stiff joints and lameness. Sometimes the lameness lasts for only three to four days but can reappear days to weeks later either in the same leg or in other legs. This is known as "shifting-leg lameness". There are vaccines for Lyme disease for dogs. The dogs get a two vaccinations within three weeks apart, after which the dogs gets a yearly vaccine before the tick season.
Eczema: Tick bites may —like other small wounds in the skin — trigger moist eczema, also known as hot spots. Hot spots are sticky patches of skin and coat and can cause excessive itching as well as pain.
There are various medicines for tick-prevention. The most common are:
- Permethrin & Imidacloprid
The medicines are usually spot-on liquids or sprays. There are also oral tablets and collars containing the medicine. The medication does not stop the tick to attach to the dog, but it usually kills the parasite before it has started to suck the blood.
Some drugs might be suitable only for dogs, but very dangerous to cats. If you have both cats and dogs in your household, choose a drug which suits for both of them. To find a right product, please ask help from your vet.
If you don't want to medicate your dog, there is also a non-medicine containing Geraniol, a natural ingredient, which has abilities to alienate external parasites.
Fleas are black and brown and highly visible to the eye. They suck blood, causing itching and sometimes skin lesions and flea allergy. Flea genus is big and the fleas are not species-specific, which means that it can reproduce by sucking blood from another species.
Dog and cat flea: Fleas can infest both your dog and your cat and can survive long in the indoor environment, and therefore it requires a longer treatment-period to get rid of the flea. It is not possible to determine the type of the flea with the naked eye.
Treatment: There are both OTC- and prescription medications that work for both prevention and treatment when the fleas already attacked the dog. If you suspect that your dog got cat fleas, you should contact your nearest veterinarian. Treatment usually lasts for about six months. Since life cycle of the cat flea also includes the environment, you should also clean thoroughly and wash, for example, sleeping mats and blankets.