Ticks & Dogs

Summer has arrived and so have the ticks. Ticks are most active in the warm, summer months. They are typically found in heavily wooded areas, and are found in many places in Illinois, including the suburbs of Chicago. Much like humans, dogs are susceptible to tick-borne diseases and tick bites. Ticks can transmit many diseases and infections through their parasitic bite. Ticks are commonly known as transmitters of Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and other diseases.

Tick bites can be difficult to detect on pets. Tick-borne diseases can take one to three weeks to show symptoms, though not all ticks transmit diseases. Symptoms of a tick-transmitted infection include fever, lethargy, and weakness.  If left untreated, these diseases can cause serious problems. Lyme disease, for example, can cause inflammation and joint pain, kidney problems, and difficulty breathing. If you suspect a pet has a tick-borne infection, seek medical care as soon as possible.

To prevent tick born infections, carefully examine your pets when after they’re outside, especially in wooded areas. Make sure to finger comb through their fur to feel for any attached ticks. In addition to careful inspection, there are many medicine or formula based preventative solutions.

Oral medications to prevent and kill ticks can be obtained from your veterinarian, and are easy to use. A common solution is a tick collar, though it is most useful for the head and neck area. There are numerous types of shampoos, powders, dips, and sprays that are preventative but can be a bit trickier to use effectively. Most of these solutions have to be applied or used regularly or monthly for optimal results.

Lastly, make your yard less tick-friendly by keeping the lawn mowed, dense wood maintained, and free from woodpiles. Using one of these options doesn’t mean that you’re in the clear and should skimp on fur examinations. It’s important to check your pets continuously.

If you discover a tick on your dog, be sure to remove the tick immediately. To remove a tick, use a pair of tweezers to grab the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull backwards without twisting or crushing the tick’s body. Be sure to examine the area to make sure the head is removed and not lodged in the animal’s skin. After removal, wash your hands and your dog thoroughly. Clean the dog’s bite with an antiseptic to prevent infection. After sustaining a tick bite, your dog may experience itchy skin. Sooth this area with a topical cream or use a cold compress.

Tick bites on dogs can be scary for pet owners. With careful prevention, monitoring, and treatment your pet should be able to happily frolic outside with minimal fear of ticks.