VCA Animal Hospitals

Do I need to worry about ticks in the fall?

Published: Sep 18, 2012

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Ticks are one of the biggest concerns for dog owners, as these tiny insects can cause serious health problems for canines. While you may assume that ticks, like many insects, are only active during the hot summer months, this is far from true. In fact, some types of tick tend to be most active during the spring and fall seasons, meaning you must be extra vigilant when walking your dog during the next few months.

According to VCA Animal Hospitals, dogs who spend time outdoors are at a greater risk of being bitten by ticks. This also increases their risk of contracting Lyme disease in dogs. If you live in a rural area and frequently walk your dog through wooded reserves and parks, ticks are likely to be abundant, and you'll need to do frequent checks following your strolls with your canine. Urban pet owners aren't exempt either. VCA reports that ticks can live in city parks, so you must be vigilant no matter where you walk your dog.

Just because ticks are a threat to your canine's health doesn't mean you should refrain from taking your dog outside to help her get exercise. Instead, you'll simply need to make yourself aware of basic ways to prevent your canine from picking up ticks.

Checking your dog for ticks every time she's been outside is the best way to prevent Lyme disease. If you do find a tick on your dog, you should remove it carefully. If you have never removed a tick before, take your canine to the nearest vet's office to have a professional demonstrate the proper way to remove one of these bugs. Great care is needed during this process, because it can be easy to leave parts of the tick intact and still connected to the canine.

If you do remove the tick on your own, use blunt tweezers and pull it out with a steady, even pressure. Do not twist the insect, and pull slowly until the entire tick is removed. Disinfect the bite area using soap and water. You may also want to keep the tick preserved in rubbing alcohol, so your vet can identify what kind of tick it is.

Simply finding ticks in dogs is not necessarily an indicator that they have Lyme disease, so don't panic if your canine has been bitten. But knowing the clinical signs of this illness will help you make sure your pet is healthy. According to VCA, some dogs, particularly older canines, do not show any clinical signs of illness. Canines with Lyme disease may have difficulty moving joints because they have become swollen and painful. If you are concerned about your canine's health, and suspect that she may have contracted Lyme disease, it's always best to bring her to a professional for a checkup. A vet will be able to use a traditional blood test to diagnose the illness and prescribe treatment if necessary. 

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