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How do I remove a tick from my dog and why is it important to do it as soon as possible?

Ticks are one of the biggest warm-season terrors, but the fear of being bitten by these arachnids is not enough to keep people out of the countryside or walking in the woods. People are increasingly opting for tick-borne encephalitis vaccinations, but similar vaccines are not available for our pets, who are no less at risk from ticks. There are many different measures to ensure protection against ticks, but none that guarantee 100% protection. So, what to do if your pet has been bitten by a tick, and how to spot the first symptoms of a tick infestation in your dog?

How do you remove a tick that has bitten your dog?

It is very important to spot a tick in time – after walks outside, look carefully at your pet’s coat to make sure there are no crawling ticks. You can swipe the coat with a fluff pick, which will attract any mites that have not yet burrowed in. If the tick is already attached, remove it as soon as possible – if it has a vector, it will be transmitted within 24-48 hours. Use tweezers or a special tick puller to pull the tick: grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible, turn slowly, and pull it out. Do not make any sudden movements, and do not apply any oil to the tick – suffocating can release harmful substances. Disinfect the site of the mite’s suction and destroy the arachnid (preferably by burning the mite). Sometimes it is not possible to pull out the whole tick – if the head of the tick remains when pulling it out, it may come off naturally (the remaining head usually withers and falls off with the resulting scab), or you can go to a veterinary clinic. If you want to test the mite for infestation, place the extracted arachnid in a sealed jar and take it to a laboratory.

Dangerous tick-borne diseases in dogs and their signs

Babesiosis – one of the most common tick-borne diseases. Babesiosis is caused by Babesia canis protozoa, which parasitise erythrocytes after entering the body. The pathogen multiplies very rapidly in the red blood cells, causing them to disintegrate and eventually leading to anaemia. If a tick bite makes a dog sluggish, feverish and vomiting, the pet may be suspected of having contracted babesiosis, but one of the most typical signs of the disease is discoloured urine (darker). After a while, you may notice that the dog’s oral mucosa has become pale and the dog has difficulty walking. If babesiosis is left untreated, kidney and liver failure often occurs, so it is very important to contact your vet in time – a blood test is usually the best way to detect the disease.
Ehrlichiosis – another dangerous disease for dogs, which is contracted by a tick bite. Ehrlichiosis is often transmitted together with babesiosis and therefore requires complex treatment (usually antidotes and antibiotics). Ehrlichia canis organisms multiply in the white blood cells, resulting in a significant reduction in the number of leukocytes. In addition, these organisms cause the platelets to disintegrate, leading to bleeding disorders. The pathogens can migrate to the lymph nodes, spleen, liver and bone marrow. In the acute form of the disease, the first symptoms are seen after 2-3 weeks, whereas in the chronic form, the first symptoms may be seen months or even years later. Ehrlichiosis is characterised by loss of appetite, exhaustion, fever, anaemia, nosebleeds, increased discharge from the eyes and joint pain (joints may be swollen). Diagnosis of ehrlichiosis is made by morphological and biochemical blood tests – the morphological blood test reveals a reduced number of leukocytes, erythrocytes and platelets, while the biochemical blood test helps to assess the state of the internal organs.

Anaplasmosis – Anaplasmosis is an infectious disease that affects cattle and causes the destruction of red blood cells in the dogs. The disease is caused by a minute parasite called Anaplasma marginale, which is found in the red blood cells of infected cattle and is responsible for the disease. It can be spread from infected dogs to healthy dogs through the bite of an insect or the use of surgical instruments.

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