Ticks in dogs and cats: how to remove and prevent them

What are ticks?

Ticks belong to the arachnid family and they are closely related to the mite. Female ticks suck themselves full of blood, drop to the ground and then lay their eggs there. Then, larvae come out and look for a host to suck blood. Typically, these hosts are wood mice, birds and hedgehogs. The larva then drops to the ground and after a rest period, the larva develops into a nymph.

The nymphs look for a suitable host, usually medium-sized mammals. The nymph also drops to the ground and develops into an adult tick after a rest period of 3 months to 2 years. This rest period depends on the temperature of the environment.

Adult ticks wait for a suitable host in forests and shrubs. These hosts are larger animals, such as your dog or cat. But you can also get a tick on your body yourself. That is sometimes the case after a walk in the woods.

What does a tick look like?

Ticks look like little spider-like creatures that slowly move across your pet's skin. They feed by sucking up the host's blood. A tick that has not yet eaten is very small and hardly noticeable, but a tick after a blood meal is many times larger. Usually, you can notice a tick when petting your dog or cat. It feels like a lump.

When are ticks active?

The larvae and nymphs are mainly active in the spring. Adult ticks are active from March to November. In winter, ticks keep calm. In a warm winter, the ticks can remain active longer.

How does my dog ​​or cat get a tick?

Ticks are mainly found in areas rich in vegetation such as forests, but they are also found in many gardens. Ticks are on plants and shrubs close to the ground. When a human or animal walks past the tick, it will drop on the victim. Therefore, it is important to always check your dog for ticks after going to the forest.

Checking dog or cat for ticks

It is important to check your pet for ticks after every walk (including in the garden). Make sure to check well behind the ears, at the armpits and groin!

Can dogs and cats get sick after a tick bite?

Your pet may develop inflammation or even an abscess at the site of the bite. Various problems can also arise from toxins. Pets can also develop complaints when bitten by a large number of ticks. All ticks suck a very small amount of blood from pets. When many ticks do this, the animal can lose so much blood that anemia develops. Pets can even die from tick bite anemia.
The greatest danger is the diseases that ticks can transmit. This happens 24-48 hours after attaching to your pet.

The most common disease is Borreliosis or Lyme disease which is transmitted by the sheep tick. 40% of ticks are infected with this disease. Only a small proportion of pets that are bitten by a sick tick get the disease.

If your pet is infected it will develop a high fever, loss of appetite and restlessness. Joint inflammation can develop and organ failure can occur at a late stage.

How to remove a tick?

While petting your dog or cat, you have noticed a tick. After looking closely, you can see that the nodule is, in fact, a small spider and you recognize the legs that flutter back and forth next to the body. What now?

To begin with, it is important to remove the tick. You can do this with special tick tweezers. With your free hand, push the hairs around the tick area to the side. Then press the tick remover. This will allow you to see the tongs of the forceps open. Make sure you place the tweezers on the head of the tick and not the body! This is very important because if you hold the body instead of the head, the tick will release. This saliva can contain Borrelia bacteria and thus infect your animal!

When you have the head of the tick in the pliers, you can let go of the button. This will cause the tick forceps to clamp on the head of the tick. Then turn the tick out of your animal's body in the counterclockwise direction. Store the tick in a container and check that the tick is completely out of your pet's body.

Research has shown that a tick needs to feed for at least 24 hours to transfer enough bacteria to cause Lyme disease. That is why a quick approach is recommended!

How can you prevent ticks?

There are different types of products to protect your animal preventively. These products include pipettes and tick collars.