Ticks are not only an ever-present nuisance for dogs and us dog people, but also a serious danger. As small but dangerous bloodsuckers, they can cause serious health problems for both our beloved four-legged friends and us humans. Protecting our dogs from ticks is therefore an important task that we must take on as responsible dog owners. In this blog series we offer you a comprehensive guide to tick protection for dogs. We explain the dangers posed by ticks, show you how you can recognize ticks on your dog and give valuable tips on how you can protect your dog from ticks and remove them safely. We'll also discuss preventative measures you can take to make your environment more tick-friendly and explain when it's advisable to see a veterinarian. Our goal is to provide you with all the information you need to keep your dog safe and healthy and get through tick season unscathed.
What you need to know about ticks
Ticks are small arachnids that feed on blood. They are capable of attaching themselves to various animals, including dogs and humans. They live in grass, shrubs and bushes, waiting for a host - like a dog - to come by so they can attach themselves and suck blood. Tick bites can cause serious health problems for dogs, including infection and disease. One of the most well-known and dangerous diseases transmitted by ticks is Lyme disease. This disease can cause severe and long-lasting symptoms such as fever, joint pain, lethargy and other discomfort in dogs and humans. It is important to identify and treat tick infestations quickly to minimize the risk of infection and to allow for early diagnosis and treatment if an infection has occurred. Dogs who live in areas with a high tick infestation or who frequently go outdoors should be checked for ticks regularly to protect their health.
Why tick protection is so important for dogs
Ticks pose a significant health risk to dogs and their owners because they act as vectors for various pathogens. These include bacteria, viruses and protozoa that can be transmitted when sucking blood. Some of the most well-known and dangerous tick-borne diseases are Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, TBE and babesiosis. These diseases can cause serious health problems in dogs and can even be fatal in some cases. Therefore, it is important that dog owners are informed about the dangers of ticks and take appropriate protective measures to minimize the risk of tick bites and associated diseases.
Lyme disease, also known as Lyme disease, is caused by the type of bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi caused. The infection can cause fever, joint inflammation, lethargy and loss of appetite. If not detected and treated early, the disease can cause serious damage to the joints, nervous system and internal organs.
Anaplasmosis is a bacterial infection that can cause fever, loss of appetite, joint pain and swelling in dogs. If left untreated, it can lead to chronic joint problems, kidney damage and neurological disorders. Treatment with antibiotics is usually effective if the disease is detected early. Effective tick protection is therefore essential to protect your dog from these diseases. In the next blog post in this series, we will look at preventive measures against tick infestations in order to best protect your dog.
TBE (tick-borne encephalitis)
TBE is a tick-borne viral disease that occurs in some parts of Europe and Asia. The disease primarily affects humans, but in rare cases it can also occur in dogs. It can cause neurological symptoms in dogs such as difficulty with coordination, seizures and even death. There is currently no specific antiviral therapy for TBE, so treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms and supporting the immune system.
Babesiosis, also known colloquially as canine malaria, is a protozoan infection transmitted by ticks of the genus Rhipicephalus and Dermacentor. Babesiosis is caused by protozoan parasites of the genus Babesia caused. The pathogens (Babesia) attack the host's red blood cells, which can lead to anemia, fever, weight loss, jaundice and, in severe cases, multi-organ failure. Treatment for babesiosis is complex and requires a combination of medications that fight the parasites and relieve the symptoms caused by the infection. Bebeiosis is also appearing more and more in countries such as Switzerland, Germany and Austria, although it was already considered extinct. This is mainly because dogs are imported from abroad or we take our dogs with us to warm holiday destinations. In this way, we are “importing” this dangerous disease into our native areas again.
When are ticks active?
Ticks usually begin activity when ambient temperatures reach around 4-7°C.
These small arachnids are particularly active in the warmer months, i.e. during spring, summer and autumn. Nevertheless, it is important to note that their activity also depends on the respective climatic conditions and geographical regions. This is how ticks are in Switzerland, Germany and Austria often found even in winter due to climate change. In areas with mild winters, such as southern countries or coastal regions, ticks can even be active all year round. However, they tend to be most active in these regions during the warmer months.
Tick activity can also be influenced by humidity and rainfall, as ticks are sensitive to dehydration. They prefer humid environments to maintain their moisture balance. Hence they are more active in humid and rainy periods and then increasingly look for host animals from which they can suck blood.
In colder regions with harsh winters, ticks retreat to protected areas such as leaves, moss or under bark during the winter months to protect themselves from cold and frost. As soon as temperatures are consistently above freezing in spring and the ambient temperatures rise again, the ticks awaken from their hibernation and begin to search for hosts again.
Since tick activity depends on various factors, Dog owners should always be vigilant and protect their dogs from ticks all year round, and check for ticks regularly during tick season. It is advisable to take appropriate precautions to minimize the risk of tick bites and possible resulting illnesses, regardless of the region and current weather conditions.
Fun facts about ticks
Ticks bite, they don't bite!: The term “tick bite” is scientifically inaccurate. In common usage, it is often incorrectly referred to as a “bite”, while the correct term is “tick bite”. The reason for this is that ticks have a stinging proboscis and a scissor-shaped mouthpart. As soon as the ticks have found a suitable puncture site, they cut open the skin, pierce the tissue with their proboscis and begin to suck blood. This is where the term “bloodsucker” comes from.
The tick's nose is on the front leg: Ticks don't have a proper nose, but they can "smell" certain substances using their Haller's organ, located on the front leg. This organ allows ticks to recognize their victims.
Ticks hunt on blades of grass: Ticks prefer grassy areas and climb grass and bushes to better reach their victims. They often extend their front legs to better detect the scents around them. When a host touches the tick, it quickly grabs onto the skin, fur or clothing with the claws on its front legs.
Ticks can survive for 10 years without food: Ticks are survivors and can survive for up to ten years without further food if they have previously had a blood meal. In the wild, woodbucks have a life expectancy of three to five years.
After a blood meal, the tick is 200 times heavier: Female ticks can increase their body weight 100 to 200 times in a single meal. An adult human would have to eat enough pizza to weigh as much as a truck to reach a similar weight.
A tick has up to 20,000 siblings: A single female tick can lay between 2,000 and 20,000 eggs at a time. These eggs are surrounded by a layer of wax and are connected to each other. Due to the large number of eggs they are often referred to as “tick caviar”.
Ticks stun their victim before biting: Ticks use an anesthetic to bite the host without the host noticing the bite. To ensure that the host does not simply scratch away the tick, produces
Tick protection for dogs
There are various methods to protect your dog from ticks. You can read more about natural tick protection and chemical preparations in other blogs in this series.
- spot-on preparations: These liquids are applied directly to the dog's skin and usually provide protection for around four weeks.
- tick collars: These collars continuously release active ingredients that repel ticks. They are usually effective for several months.
- tablets: Oral medications can also protect against ticks, but they often require a prescription and must be prescribed by a veterinarian.
- Natural alternatives: There are also natural approaches, such as: B. essential oils or special dog shampoos that can help repel ticks. However, the effectiveness of these methods varies greatly.