Beware of Dog Ticks

By Charles Hopkins Published 05/27/2007 | Pets and Animals

People have always known that ticks can carry various forms of disease. But now due to a number of conditions, their numbers are increasing across the United States.

Numerous experts have recently been warning that due to certain changes the numbers of ticks are increasing and their chances to infect your dog with disease is also increasing.

Urbanization of the woods and farmland is probably the most common factor that causes dogs to become exposed to ticks. Other causes cited by experts include a warming climate. In the past diseases that ticks carried would often show seasonality. But due to a warming climate some ticks are active all year long, and hence the diseases they carry are seen all year long.

Also the migrating patterns of birds are changing as well due to climate changes, and due to sub-urbanization more people are enjoying outdoor activities with their dogs leading to increased exposure to ticks.

Ticks have been implemented in carrying dozens of diseases. The most common ones known to dog owners are Lyme's disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Canine Ehrliciosis.

Ticks start their life cycle as larvae that hatch from eggs. Once the larvae hatch from eggs, they immediately start seeking hosts that are often rodents. After the larvae feed off the rodents, they fall off and live on the forest floor feeding off decaying material and molt into nymphs, and then seek another blood meal from a small animal. If this nymph fails at finding its first blood meal it will die, but if this nymph succeeds in finding its first blood meal it will fall off the host and lives off the soil again, molting into an adult.

For an adult tick the preferred animal to get a blood meal from is a large animal, preferably a deer. Deer are one of the main causes of a thriving tick population. If we didn't have deer we wouldn't have as big of a problem with ticks as we do.

Deer were heading towards extinction in the early part of the last century, but due to restrictions on hunting their numbers are increasing, hence we have an increase in the number of ticks.

Due to this increasing problem with ticks and disease most veterinarians are now recommending year around tick protection for dogs. Most common heartworm medications also prevent fleas and ticks so chances are your dog may already be protected against ticks but you should check with your veterinarian to be sure.

Ticks are continually increasing in numbers so it is important to keep your dog protected. Always be sure to check yourself, and your dogs for ticks after going in an area known to be populated with ticks.