Ticks are ectoparasites that live on the skin of domestic animals, usually dogs and cats. These arachnids belong to the order Parasitiformes and subclass Acari.
They feed on the blood of the host organism, and most of the times, along the way they transfer diseases to those organisms. Although they are widely distributed around the world, they are mostly found in regions of humid, and warm climatic conditions.
All the ticks found worldwide can be divided into two families, majorly. One of them is Ixodidae, or commonly known as hard ticks and another one of them is Agrasidae or the soft ticks. As the name suggests, hard ticks are the ones that are hard to remove or crush.
The effect of ticks on your dogs would depend on the region of your country and habits of your dog, the time of the year (activities of ticks are more common during the weather in which they can flourish easily), and the use of tick control products.
Your dog can be affected by ticks even if they spend most of the time indoors and very less time outdoors.
So, if you are wondering how exactly Ticks will affect your dog, then read on.
Ticks, first, find a place to hide so that they can attack their host whenever they get the chance to. Once they are away from the sharp eyes of their predators, they look for hosts to cling on. When they do find a suitable host, which can be you or your fluffy pet, they get themselves attached to their skin, by inserting their mouthparts into the skin of their host. Yeah, painful, but this is nothing in comparison to what they can do or rather what they are about to do to your dog and who knows, maybe you.
Ticks also produce a sticky substance using which they remain stricken to your dog. Once they make themselves comfortable in someone else’s skin then they begin to feed on them.
They start by sucking the blood of your dog. No not like vampires, at least they finish their work in one go, these ticks, on the other hand, keep stricken to the skin of your dog. The place which was most comfortable for them turns red and irritated. The longer they stay, more the blood they consume leading to deficiency of blood, called Anemia.
This is just one of the diseases and deficiency they cause to your dog. The list is quite long from this point on.
Female ticks produce a toxin while feeding which causes paralysis in dogs. The most familiar disease that ticks cause to your dog is Lyme disease. Rocky mountain fever is another kind of disease produced by ticks in dogs.
Tick Bite Paralysis on Dogs
Certain species of female ticks releases a toxin from their saliva which gets into the bloodstream of the dogs while they are sucking blood. When this toxin enters the bloodstream of the dog then it directly affects the nervous system of the dog. This produces various nervous system related diseases in the dog.
One of the many diseases that is caused by this toxin is the lower motor neuron paralysis. In this paralysis, the dog loses its ability of voluntary movement and the muscles tend to stay in a state of relaxation. The nerves that connect spinal cord and muscles are the most affected nerves in this paralysis.
Nevertheless, it is not necessary that if your dog has been infected by the ticks then it will be paralyzed as well. Usually, there is more than one tick present on the skin of the dog, but infection by only one of them will cause paralysis to the dog. On the contrary, not every dog that has been affected will suffer paralysis.
Lyme Disease on Dogs
This is one of the most common diseases in dogs. Clinically, the dogs with Lyme diseases are not ill, which makes it difficult to determine their treatment. This disease is also common in humans, the tick that effects your dog can also affect you. It is a common misconception that dogs are the reason for Lyme disease in humans, however, the fact is that the tick that causes this disease in dogs can also infect humans.
The bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi is responsible for this disease in both humans and dogs. The nymph and adult stages of black-legged ticks, Lxodes scapularis transmit this disease to humans and dogs.
Only about 10% of the infected dogs show symptoms of this disease, making the treatment difficult. The common symptoms are lameness, lethargy, fever, and enlarged lymph nodes.
These symptoms start to appear two to five months after the infection. Antibiotic medicines such as Doxycycline and Amoxicillin are the medicines that work well with the infection.
Rocky Mountain Fever on Dogs
Rickettsi rickettsii is the name of the organism which causes this disease in dogs. It is an obligate intracellular parasite, meaning that it can survive only in the cells of its host. It is usually found in the Central, South and North America.
The species of the tick that would transfer this obligate intracellular parasite depends from area to area. In many parts of the western states, the wood tick, scientifically known as Dermacentor andersoni, causes this infection, with Arizona being an exception. In Arizona, Brown Dog tick, scientifically known as Rhipicephalus sanguineus is the designated carrier of this disease.
In the eastern states, American Dog tick, scientifically known as Dermacentor variabilis is the carrier of this disease.
Female ticks pass this organism to their eggs and male ticks pass this organism to female ticks via the process of mating. Ticks can also acquire this organism by feeding on another infected animal.
The number of the tick infected cases rises between the month of March and October. The probability of you or your dog getting infected is higher if you live in woody, forested areas.
The symptoms of this disease are often vague. Usually, the symptoms include muscle/joint pain, coughing, abdominal pain, vomiting, fever, poor appetite, swelling in face or legs and depression.
In severe cases, due to a large number of ticks present on the body, the damage to the blood vessels is so extreme that tissue death is inevitable.
Hence, now you are completely aware of the effects of ticks on your dogs. Hence, it is advisable to take care of your lovable pet and take precautions of keeping them away from the ticks.