Feb 2, 2020
Pet Health and Safety • Maggie Dean • Aug 30, 2018
“Tick season” can vary depending on where you live. In general, summer and fall are peak tick seasons; however, because ticks like warmer climates, those who live in regions that stay warm year-round are at higher risk. This does not mean that you should cease tick prevention when temperatures drop. Most veterinarians will recommend that you continue tick prevention year-round in accordance to the instructions on your tick prevention of choice.
As a general rule, if your area’s average temperature is below 40 degrees, your tick risk is low. If your average temperature is between 40 and 64 degrees, you are at a moderate tick risk. Average temperatures at 65 degrees and above are at a high tick risk.
Ticks take up residence in dark, damp areas low to the ground until they find their perfect host on whom to latch. 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. After going on a hike or romping through the field, dogs should be checked thoroughly for ticks from nose to tail.
Searching for ticks is not as simple as running a hand down your dog’s back and legs. Ticks latch firmly onto the skin, so you have to search deep within the fur to find them. Often, they are so tiny, you won’t even feel them. They can also be mistaken for a skin tag, wart or scab. (This is why it is so important to pet, bathe and groom your dog so you familiarize yourself with your dog and know what is “normal” and what is not.)
Long-haired dogs, dogs with dark-coats and dogs with an undercoat pose the most challenge as ticks are hard to feel and see. Just like in nature, ticks like warm, dark areas on your dog too. These are some common places where ticks like to hide:
Just like humans, dogs are susceptible to tick-borne diseases. Below are some of the most common tick-borne diseases seen in dogs:
Ticks bites can also cause a local reaction - like a bump, scab, reddening or itchiness - in the area of the tick bite. This may not be cause for concern. If symptoms persist beyond 24 hours after tick removal, worsen or are accompanied by other symptoms, contact your veterinarian.
Staying diligent with your tick prevention regimen is key! A variety of prevention methods are available, including oral medications, topical treatments, and collars. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you on what method will be most effective for you and your dog. Region, lifestyle and the individual dog all play a role. Sometimes a method that works for one dog, won’t work for another, so you may have to use trial and error to determine the best method for your pup.
Don’t panic! Most of the time, tick bites do not cause your dog any harm. If your dog is on tick prevention, a tick can still bite your dog but will die before it can cause any negative effects. The tick may fall off on its own or you may notice the tick is not alive when you remove it.
Ticks can transmit disease in as little as 36 hours, so removing them immediately is important. Removing ticks is fairly straight-forward and most pet owners are comfortable with the below process:
If for whatever reason you are uncomfortable, contact your veterinarian. They will be more than happy to remove it for you or can walk you through the process.
To hedge your bets against avoiding ticks altogether, stay diligent with your tick prevention! Follow your veterinarian’s recommendations for a tick-free season! AKC Pet Insurance offers two wellness options for reimbursement on your flea and tick preventative care to keep your dog healthy and happy!