Ticks, for those of you who don't know, are small insects that act as parasites to mammals by attaching to the skin and sucking out blood as a food source. Yum! Feeling a bit ill after reading that?! Sorry, there is just no delicate way to describe what a tick does! And ticks are common in the UAE, so it's good that you get to know them! In fact, we do advise all dog owners to treat preventatively for them.
Most of the time when your dog gets bitten by a tick, he won't even notice it and won't have any ill effects; believe it or not, we've seen dogs literally covered in ticks that have been healthy in every other respect. So why are we recommending you take active steps to prevent ticks from attaching to your dog? Well, aside from the fact that we're sure you don't want the little critters crawling around your home (uh... right?), we've seen an increasing prevalence of a disease called Ehrlichia in dogs in the UAE over the past few years. Cats, thank goodness, are not affected!
Ehrlichia occurs when a dog is bitten by an infected tick, which then passes the disease into his bloodstream. But note that ticks need to be attached to your dog's skin for a day or two before the disease can be transmitted, and furthermore the incubation period varies from 1-3 weeks, so if your dog is regularly treated against ticks, the chances of one actually being able to attach long enough and transmit the disease are really dramatically decreased.
Signs of Ehrlichia are varied and can sometimes go unnoticed for quite a while by owners. They include:
If you've found ticks on your dog in recent weeks and feel he's not himself, it would be a good idea to talk to your vet and get him checked out. The disease is treated easily with four weeks of antibiotics, but it is always better to avoid it entirely by preventing the ticks from biting in the first place. And how do you do that? Well, simple: use Frontline spot-on every 3-4 weeks. Once applied, remember not to bath or swim your dog for at least a day after application. And if your dog is a very hairy one, he'll also benefit from using the Frontline spray on his legs and underbelly in addition to the spot-on.
Now that advice is spot-on, don't you think?
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