Summer time and it is a merry time for all blood-sucking pests. Dogs and cats are the prime targets of ticks. These parasites attack and spread various diseases hampering the life of pets. In order to protect your pets from ticks, it is important to understand the various life stages of ticks, and how can these external parasites spread the diseases in pets.
What are Ticks?
Ticks are nasty tiny creatures living on the blood of animals and sometimes people. These creatures do not have wings to fly, nor jump. They are transported by birds and animals, and travel by walking on grounds and up the plants. When they come near their host, they drop onto it and hooked on them. Feeding on the host, they gradually multiply and start their life cycle.
With more than 850 species of ticks existing everywhere, they are the source of numerous diseases. There are two broad classifications of ticks depending on body structure – soft ticks and hard ticks. The most common ticks that infest pets are hard cover ticks.
Let us study in detail about tick’s life cycle. They undergo four life stages: Egg, Six-leggd larva, Eight-legged nymph and
Normally, adult female ticks breed while on the host animal and then drop to the ground to lay eggs. A female lays several thousand eggs at a time. After hatching from eggs, ticks require blood at every stage to survive. Therefore, they need many hosts to complete their full life cycle, which can even take up to 3 years. However, most of them die, as they don’t find host for feeding.
Adult female ticks lay eggs on the ground during spring. This is the season where the ticks are highest and attack pets.
The egg hatches into larva and finds its first wildlife hosts, which can be a rat or other small mammal. They get on to their host animal for survival. After feeding on blood of the animal, it drops to ground where it remains dormant during the winter season.
During the spring, larva develops into nymph and starts feeding again on a variety of hosts such as deer, dogs, cats, humans, etc. by getting onto them. Nymphs are inactive during winter and then start feeding again in spring.
At this stage, mostly they are infected with a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi that causes Lyme disease. After a heavy blood feast, they detach from the body and grow into adults over the summer.
Adults always feed on different hosts in the fall. Many of these ticks in Lyme disease areas are infected with the Lyme bacteria organism. Thus, they become the carriers of this disease and ultimately, infect the other hosts such as deer, humans and dogs on which they feed.
While feeding on dogs, mostly they spread deadly diseases that can be life frightening. With the help of dog tick treatment, you can protect your pet from the infection.
How Ticks spread diseases?
These blood-sucking parasites transmit microorganisms that spread disease through the process of feeding.
The process of feeding depends on two factors – tick species and its life stage. Moreover, it takes around 10 minutes to 2 hours for tick to feed on animal. When tick finds it feeding spot on the animal, it grasps the skin and cuts the surface.
Then the tick inserts its feeding tube. There are species, which secrete a cement-like substance that keeps them firmly attached to the body while feeding on animals. Furthermore, the feeding tube has barbs that keep tick in place.
It is scientifically proven that ticks secrete small amounts of anesthetic substance in saliva, which helps them to suck blood easily without causing pain in hosting animal or person. Usually, ticks in sheltered spot go unnoticed.
For several days, tick will suck blood slowly. If the host animal is suffering from blood-borne disease, it will suck the pathogens.
While feeding on animals, tick’s saliva enters the host animal. If the pathogens are present in them, then it will get transfer into host animal.
After feeding enough blood, ticks usually drop off and prepare for the next life stage. During its next feeding session, it can transmit the acquired disease to the next host.
No matter what type of tick species are there; try to protect your pets from these nasty suckers as they can cause deadly disease. During summer, tick infestation is at its highest, so it is better to provide preventive treatments to your pet such as tick collar for dogs, topical solutions,and protect him from any tick-borne disease.
There are numerous dog tick medications available in the market such as Frontline Plus and Advantix that helps to prevent ticks from attacking your pets and repel them before they cause any infection. Understanding life cycle of tick, you can very well understand why you need to treat your dog with tick preventives and help them to lead healthy life even in heavy tick season.