Health Tips for Responsible Dog Ownership

These are some helpful tips for dog owners. It is important to note that this is a general first aid topic and will not cover every situation. It is always important to seek veterinary advice. In this section we will speak about ticks.


Over 90% of ticks are found around the neck and head region and may be very difficult to locate and can lodge in such places as the ear canal, the nostril, between the toes, under the lip, or in the anus.

Tick infestation of dogs causes local irritation and discomfort leading to abscesses and by sucking blood from the dog. The dog attempts to rid itself of the parasite by scratching and rubbing, which causes sores and bleeding. The sores may become infested by screwworms or other maggots.

These small parasites are common in many parts of the world. There are 850 known species of ticks. The tick species are divided into two families.

The ticks are grouped according to the number of hosts that they feed from during their life cycle. The 'one-host' ticks spend their life cycle on one animal. The 'two-host' ticks feed from two separate animals, while the 'three-host' ticks have a different host for each stage of development. Most 'hard ticks' that infest dogs are in the 'three-host' group.

The female tick mates on the host, the blood feeding are then accelerated. After about a week the engorged female drops to the ground and spends another week digesting the blood. The female will deposit her eggs in a mass of several hundred to 18,000 eggs at one time. After the female deposits her eggs she dies. In warm weather the eggs may hatch within two weeks into tiny six-legged larvae which are commonly called 'seed ticks'. The larvae crawl up various type of vegetation to await the passing of a host animal. The larvae can live from eight months to one year without feeding on a suitable host.

The odour of butyric acid, given off by all mammals, stimulates the larvae to drop onto and attach to the host. After several days they become distended with blood and drop to the ground where the moult (shed their skin) and become a nymph. The nymph is somewhat larger than the larvae and have eight legs. The nymph repeats the same process of awaiting and attachment of a suitable host. After the nymph transfers to the host, they suck blood, which causes the local irritation and discomfort. After the nymph completes engorgement, they drop from the host. While on the ground they moult into adult males or females. Adults may wait for a host as long as three years, before dying. The tick is usually active between early spring through late autumn.

Tick must be removed from the dog's body. The handler must exercise care when removing ticks for two reasons. The first is that ticks can be carriers of zoonotic diseases.

The second reason is that inflammation of the dog's skin can result if all of the tick's mouth is not removed. The correct procedure for removal is to place the fingers or tweezers around the body of the tick and as close to the skin a* possible. The tick's head should then be withdrawn from the skin by slow, gentle traction. Ticks that are deep in the ear canals must be removed only by a veterinary, since there is a danger of injury to the ears. After removal, ticks should be disposed of by flushing down the nearest drain or immersion in alcohol. Owners should always wash their hands after handling ticks.

As noted, ticks do not spend all of their lives on the body of the dog. They may be found in cracks in the floors and sides of the kennel: they may be present in the grass and bushes of the-training and working areas. Control, therefore, does not depend only on treating the individual animal. It may be necessary to treat the kennels, training areas and working areas with insecticides. Treatment with insecticides must be accomplished only with the approval of the veterinarian, since many of these agents when used incorrectly can be harmful to dogs and could result in death.

Ixodes species

This is the one species that produces paralysis syndrome. This tick inhabits the coastal areas of New South Wales, Queensland and Northern Victoria. It attacks all year round but tends to reach maximum activity in the warmer months and particularly in the seven to 10 day period following heavy rain. It's the female Ixodes holocyclus that causes the problem: she attaches herself to the dog and proceeds to engorge with blood. After about three days the toxin (poison) stored in the ticks salivary glands begins to effect the dog. Special Note: In winter the tick toxin is highly poisonous.

Symptoms: All ticks tend to cause a great deal of reaction at the site of invasion, producing a large swelling with a pronounced crater in the centre, in which the
tick's head becomes buried as it sucks blood from its host. The most common symptoms are a gradually increasing weakness, which commences in the hind limbs and spreads forward along the body. The dogs drool saliva, often vomit, and may lose their voice. They groan as they breathe and are a pitiful sight. The dog needs veterinary assistance as soon as possible.

Treatment: The vet will administer an antiserum and hospitalise the dog to help in controlling other symptoms such as vomiting and lung infections. Without treatment the dogs condition will continue to deteriorate for at least 24 hours after the tick has been removed.


  1. I moved to a house in the woods so I have gown quite familiar with ticks. I keep a chart on the fridge of which ones carry diseases but can never tell them apart. My dog is bit frequently and purchased a pet health insurance plan for if anything were to happen from a diseased tick, wild animal or any other mischief my little guy gets into. This is resourceful for what to look for after a biting occurs and not solely just on the tick itself.

  2. We all know that we need to be a responsible dog owner if we have a dog. My daughter wants to have a dog, because this is our first time to own a dog in our home. I decide to read an article that helps me to understand how to care properly the dog. My friend shared me your blog and he told me that all the information I need are given in your article. I learned from your blog all the information I'm looking for. So now, I'm ready to have a dog in our home and I wish you will also tackle the topic about vets swale. Thank you very much for the information I learned here.