Australian Shepherds are very furry dogs and often have dark fur. Therefore, finding a tick on their skin can prove difficult. However, ticks are dangerous and harm your dog. Not only do they cause pain and discomfort, but they can also even transmit a disease to your Aussie if they are infected.
Ticks can be very difficult to spot. But, to keep your furry friend healthy and active, you must take some measures. This guide will help you identify ticks and tell you how to remove them. Additionally, there are preventative measures you can take to keep your dog from being harmed by those nasty parasites.
What Is A Tick?
Ticks are ectoparasites. They live outside the body and feed on it. They are fairly common and can even get onto a dog that mainly stays indoors.
There are almost a thousand different kinds of ticks. The type of tick also depends on your geographical location, the time of the year, and climate. Your dog’s habits and the tick control products you use also factor into how often and how severe their tick infections can be.
Since Australian Shepherds are very active dogs who love the outdoors, they are very susceptible to ticks.
What Does A Tick Look Like?
Though there are many types of ticks, most of them look similar. Tick larvae, nymphs, and adult ticks can all bite your Australian Shepherd and latch onto their skin.
Tick larvae are very tiny – around the same size as a grain of sand. They will look like a speck and be either black or red. Tick nymphs are a bit bigger; around 3 times bigger than a larva. They are also either red or black. Unfed adult ticks are around the size of an apple seed. They are usually flat and have a teardrop-like shape. They are typically brown, and their mouths are darker than the rest of their body. Ticks that are fed are double the size. They are either white or grey and are usually round in shape.
How To Check For Ticks On An Australian Shepherd?
Regularly checking your Aussie for ticks can greatly help to keep your pet healthy. Here is how you can check your dog for ticks:
- Run your fingers through your dog’s fur. If you feel round bumps that are about 1 cm long, it may be a tick.
- Then check your pet’s head, mouth, ears, feet, and armpits. All parts of your dog’s body should be given a thorough examination. Do not forget to remove any gear (such as a collar) that your dog may be wearing. Ticks usually grab hold on an area close to the skin where they can suck blood easily. You might also find ticks that have not bit the skin yet; these unfed ticks are smaller and brown. You may see them roaming around in your dog’s fur.
- You may mistake a skin lump for a tick. If you are unsure if a lump is a tick, part the fur and take a close look. You can confirm if it is a tick by noticing if it has legs. If you are still unsure, go to a vet and get your dog examined.
What To Do If You Find Ticks On Your Australian Shepherd
If you find a tick on your dog, you will have to remove the whole tick carefully. Do this as soon as you can. You will need some equipment to help you with the process:
- Protective gloves
- A container
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Tick hook or tick twister. You can purchase these from a chemist, vet, or supermarket
Once you have your tools ready, follow these instructions:
- Put on the gloves. Ticks can bite and infect humans; it is necessary to protect yourself before handling ticks
- Keep your Aussie still and calm. If your dog moves too much during the process, part of the tick can remain in the skin and cause an infection
- Part your dog’s fur until you can see the tick. Be gentle if the tick is in a sensitive area such as the ear. If latched on, the tick will not move
- Use your tick hook or twister to get under the tick’s body. Then twist the instrument gently and pull upwards slowly. Make sure you do not squeeze the tick. This will remove the tick from the skin
- Dispose of the tick. You will need to encase and kill the insect so that it does not go back onto your dog’s fur or onto you. Put the tick inside the container. Put some rubbing alcohol into the container and close it. You can wait for the tick to die and then dispose of it, or you can throw the entire container out
- Clean the site of the bite with some pet-friendly antiseptic. Throw the gloves away and wash your hands. Also, remember to disinfect the tick hook so that you can use it later
Ticks have very strong mouths and hold on tight to your dog’s skin. If you remove the tick, but its mouth remains on your dog’s skin, the site may get infected. If you encounter any difficulty in removing the mouth of the tick is left inside your dog’s skin, go to the vet, and get your dog examined.
If you successfully remove the tick, give your dog some affection and praise them for being so good.
Signs of Tick-Borne Diseases
After you have removed the ticks, you need to monitor your dog. If your Aussie shows any symptoms of disease, this can be a cause for worry. Symptoms of tick-borne diseases include:
- Joint Swelling
- Decreased appetite
- Increased thirst
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Neck pain
- Neurological Problems
Your dog may not show symptoms of illness for many months after being infected by a tick. However, if you notice any of the following symptoms, contact your vet and have your Australian Shepherd examined.
How Dangerous Are Ticks?
Tick bites from infected ticks can be dangerous for your Australian Shepherd. They can infect dogs with Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, and anaplasmosis. All of these can have very serious consequences and require treatment.
Chronic canine ehrlichiosis can even cause death. Lyme disease too can cause death, but many dogs do not show symptoms of Lyme disease.
In addition, many dogs do not show any symptoms of tick bites before the disease has spread. This can be very dangerous for your dog and so checking for ticks is important.
If you think your dog has been infected, you will have to take them to the vet for treatments and medication.
However, if caught early, the diseases are less likely to harm your dog. For this reason, preventative measures and vaccinations are key.
How To Prevent Ticks From Biting Your Dog
The best way to keep ticks off your Australian Shepherd is by using preventative tick treatments.
You can use many different kinds of products: tick repellent collars, oral medications, or topical medications.
Topical treatments and collars would repel ticks, while oral medications would work on your dog’s bloodstream. For this reason, a tick would die after it bites your dog. However, no harm would come to your dog.
Contact your vet to check which product would work best for your Australian Shepherd.
You may also wish to vaccinate your dog against Lyme disease. But, again, consult your vet to find out if you can have the vaccine administered to your Aussie.
Can Ticks Harm Humans?
Ticks can harm humans. They can attach themselves to humans the same way they do to dogs. Once attached they will feed on your blood and cause discomfort. Tick bites will leave the skin inflamed and irritated. If the tick is infected, it can transmit disease to humans.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme Disease are both infections that ticks can transmit. They can have very serious symptoms. If a tick has bitten you, you should consult a doctor for treatments and medication.
It is wise to regularly check your Australian Shepherd for ticks so that they can remain healthy and active.
In addition, preventative action should be taken so that your active dog can enjoy their time outdoors.