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Ticks are tiny blood-sucking arachnids that live in woods and tall grasses waiting patiently for an opportunity to burrow into a host. Dogs, being curious and always up for rolling and running in the grass are bound to emerge from it with one or more ticks attached to their skin.
Ticks are carriers of several diseases, which can be potentially fatal if the tick bite on dog isn't noticed in time. The good news is that not all ticks are infected but in most cases, their bite will result in a lump on a dog's skin.
When Does Tick Season Start
Generally speaking, tick season starts in April and lasts until November; however, this doesn't mean your pooch is safe the rest of the year. Ticks hibernate during the winter months, but if the temperature is above freezing they will become active and in search of a host.
Adult ticks can stay alive under the snow, and when the sun shines and snow melts ticks are able to attach themselves to a dog that is passing by. On the other hand, some types of ticks are only active when the temperature is above 45 degrees Fahrenheit if the ground is dry.
What Diseases Do Ticks Carry?
Most dog owners associate ticks with Lyme disease, but many don't know that there are several types of ticks and not all of them carry Lyme. The Deer tick is the most famous for spreading Lyme disease through its bite, but not all Deer ticks are carriers of the disease. Furthermore, some dogs get infected with Lyme without having symptoms and don't require any type of treatment.
American Dog Tick is found in Eastern U.S, West Coast, and the Plains States and can transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever which is a bacterial infection that results in fever, respiratory problems, and lethargy in dogs. This tick also transmits Babesiosis, Tick paralysis, and Ehrlichiosis which are serious conditions that require the immediate attention of a vet.
Dogs who live in the Western United States are at risk of catching Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Tick, which is also known as Wood Tick. This type of tick causes paralysis in a dog's hind legs, which spreads to lungs and results in death if a tick isn't removed.
How To Safely Remove a Tick From Your Dog
Most owners dread ticks so much, that some have mistaken a tick with a mold, wart or skin cyst. If you feel something out of the ordinary on your dog's skin, part his hair so you can make sure that you are really dealing with a tick.
Once your suspicions are confirmed and you can see a tick's legs and enlarged body full of your dog's blood you may proceed with tick removal. However, if you are squeamish or have any doubts about your abilities to safely pull the tick out, don't be a hero and take your dog to a vet to have the tick removed.
If you opt for removing the tick at home use a pair of pointy tweezers and put the tips between the tick's head as close to the dog's skin as possible. Do not try to grab or squeeze the tick's body with tweezers since it's going to burst and puke into your dog's bloodstream.
When you have a steady hold on a tick with the tweezers, apply firm pressure to pull the entire tick out. Be aware that ticks have strong jaws that tend to be stuck in the skin, so use your other hand to hold the skin around the bite wound while you are pulling the tick out.
When the tick is safely out, check if you removed the entire thing and then place it into a zip lock bag or a small container if you want to have it tested for diseases. Use warm water and a little soap to wash and disinfect the wound.
Why A Dog Has A Lump After A Tick Bite?
Ticks have strong jaws and the evidence of their bite will be visible on your dog's skin in terms of a small lump and redness. This is a completely normal reaction, and depending on a dog it can take from a few days to two weeks for a lump to completely disappear.
On the other hand, if after a few days the swelling isn't subsided a little bit and it shows signs of inflammation you might be dealing with an infected tick bite. In cases of unsuccessful removal of a tick, its head is left embedded in the skin, which causes inflammation. If you suspect that you didn't remove the tick properly take your dog to the vet so he can remove the head and treat your dog with antibiotics for the infection.
Sometimes the tick is left on a dog for too long which increases the likelihood of infection and swelling on the bite wound. If you notice that the lump is getting bigger after you removed the tick and that some oozing and pus are present take your dog to a vet. These symptoms can be accompanied by fever and lethargy and are signs that a dog developed an infection from a bite wound.
Furthermore, some dogs are allergic to fluids that are present in a tick's saliva, which can cause the bite lump to become more swollen and red. In a case of allergic reaction, the area around the bite wound will be red and swollen, and a dog will develop a rash on other parts of his body. If this is the case with your pooch take him to a vet so he can administer proper treatment.
The most dangerous cause of a lump after the removal of a tick is Lyme disease. Swelling and redness of the bite site are signs of inflammation but they can also be the first symptoms of Lyme or other tick-transmitted diseases. Because of that, it is always best to take your dog to the vet to get him tested after you removed the tick.
How To Protect Your Dog From Ticks
Ticks are a yearlong threat to you and your dog and you need to take necessary precautions in order to avoid emergency vet visits and fatal outcome as the result of a tick bite. With global warming, the tick season is starting sooner than ever before and you should be on the safe side during the winter too.
There are many effective tick repellents on the market today ranging from spot ons, dog collars, tablets, and injections. Most of them are potent and will keep your dog safe as long as you use them properly and on time.
Moreover, even if you regularly apply tick control products you should check your dog for ticks after every outing outside. You should also avoid taking your dog to walks in known tick habitats like woods, tall grasses, shrubs, and practice tick control in your backyard.
Most owners have to deal with tick bites at least once in their lifetime, and for most, there isn't a scarier thing than seeing that tiny animal attached to a dog's skin. It is important to note, that not all ticks are disease carriers, however, all dogs develop lumps as the reaction to a tick bite.
Depending on a dog, it may take a few days to a couple of weeks for a lump to completely disappear. On the other hand, red, swollen lumps that ooze pus are the result of inflammation or signs of disease and require immediate vet attention.