Pets! The most inquisitive creatures. They are known to be explorative, fun, really curious and full of life! They are really curious to learn more, explore more and understand more. Infact, due to their inquisitive nature they tend to wander off to grassy-areas, or areas which we would essentially avoid – such as high grasslands, or bushes or mud & puddles. Dogs have been given the gift of being good sniffers and so due to their inborn qualities, they tend to explore more. It’s a common behavioural aspect that dogs tend to relieve their bladder or poop in areas which have more grass or bushes. While the grass-bush areas may be good for natural processes, it is definitely a store house for ticks and fleas. Wait what? Yes, these ticks and fleas stay on rocks, crevices, cracks and yes, on and near grass-bush areas. And that is the reason why we observe ticks and fleas on the body of our dogs. These ticks are small and usually attach on body of dogs when we take them out for daily walk. Also, most frequently, our veterinarians tend to ask us this one particular question when our pets fall sick: “did you see ticks on your pets’ body?”
Well, what are these ticks exactly? How do they look? What harm do they cause? Why and how are they related to my pet falling sick? If you have ever wondered about ticks and their harmful effects, this is the right blog for you. Through this blog, let us uncover some interesting facts about ticks, their harmful effects and how we can prevent them from harming our pets while protecting them against the same.
THE TERROR OF TICKS
Ticks are essentially a parasite which causes immense harm to the host. Ticks are ecto-parasitic in nature which harm a wide range of animals. Ectoparasite means Ecto: outside Parasite: harmful organism.A parasite is an organism that lives on the body or in the skin but they are generally not found within the body. Fleas and lice are some examples of ectoparasites along with ticks and mites. Infestation with an ectoparasite is called an ectoparasitosis.Ticks are small, blood-sucking bugs, which feed on blood of the host. They attach to the skin of the host organism and derive nutrition from the host. Ticks are very harmful to dogs as they transmit harmful infections and diseases. Let us look into the diseases caused by ticks:
TICKS AND DISEASES
Ticks as mentioned before are blood sucking and disease transmitting bugs. In fact, there are several diseases that can be transmitted to your pet via a tick bite. Some of the most common tick-borne diseases are Lyme disease babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, and tick paralysis. Let us have a look at some diseases caused by these infectious ectoparasites.
Tick fever is a broad term used for infection caused by ticks. Ticks transmit various microscopic organism such as protozoa – Babesia or Ehrlichia. These two organisms causes Tick Fever or in medical terms- ‘Babesiosis’ and ‘Ehrlichiosis’.
Babesiosis is a disease caused by organism Babesia canis [dogs] and this organism: Babesia is a tiny parasite which infects your dogs’ red blood cells. It is a life-threatening infection which rapidly destroys the red-blood cells and platelets. On the other hand, Ehrlichiosis is caused by organism named Ehrlichia which again affects the hemodynamic structure of the body.
Well, we all know the importance of red-blood cells which is the crux of our being. RBC’ or red blood cell transport oxygen and essential nutrients throughout our body and ensures each organ-tissue-cell receives enough oxygen and nutrients. What happens in Babesiosis is that this organism Babesia require the red blood cell to grow and divide and eventually many cellular reactions takes place ultimately leading to untimely death of RBCs. This leads to severe anaemia and we even observe low platelet counts. Ofcourse, on further diagnosis, other blood parameters might also exhibit changes. Let us focus on RBCs and platelets which are majorly affected.
What does this lead to?
- Low RBC means low Oxygen [hypoxia]
- Low RBC means many tissues and cells are not getting enough nutrients
- Thus it can causefeelings of fatigue, tiredness and weakness.
- Low RBC means many cells are not functioning optimally which eventually leads to-
- Cellular dysfunction and death.
- This will cause immunity of the body to go down thus, affecting immune system badly
- When immune system is disturbed, other viral-bacterial infections may immediately set in.
Anaemia is the deficiency of blood RBCs. It could be a multifaceted dysfunction. Make sure you check out our blog on anaemia where we covered the basic A, B, C’s of anaemia, causes of anaemia, diagnostics and treatment protocol associated with the same.
Now, these ticks are particularly very efficient in sucking blood from the host [dog] thus, if your dog is affected by a large number of ticks, anaemia may ensue. However, it is important to note that even one tick is efficient and sufficiently enough to transmit tick fever. What? Yes. That’s very much true. One tick is enough to make your pet sick. As these ticks carry infectious organism like Babesia or Ehrlichia we cannot say which tick bite will or will not lead to threatening disease. It is always better to stay vigilant and safe against the same.
Now that we have understood quite a bit about ticks, let us now learn a bit more about fleas. To give you a little clue, ask yourself- “have you observed little black insets-like organisms running on the fur-skin of your pets?” If you have observed these tiny creatures, you are right, these are called fleas. And in case you haven’t, let’s understand more about fleas.
FLEAS: THE LITTLE RUNNER BUGS
Fleas are small flightless insects that are also grouped under the family of ectoparasites just like ticks and they too, act as external parasites of mammals and birds. Fleas live by consuming blood from their hosts. However a striking difference between ticks and fleas is that ticks are attached to body [skin] where they suck blood and get engorged whereas the fleas suck blood but they do not stay attached onto the skin, instead they keep on moving or running on the skin.
WHAT HARM DOES A FLEA CAUSE?
Again, the major one is Anaemia, Irritation and restlessness. But there are some important conditions which are caused by fleas. FAD and Parasitic Diseases are most common manifestation or sequel to flea bite.
One of the major one is
1. FAD: FLEA ALLERGIC DERMATITIS
So in this condition, due to flea bite, there is irritation on the skin which causes your pet to itch more as a result of the intense biting action and irritating saliva of the fleas. Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) or flea bite hypersensitivity is the most common dermatologic disease.
WHAT DO I OBSERVE?
- Your dog is itching more than usual
- Your dog is restless due to itching
- You observed black fleas on skin
- Your dog has some red papule on skin [which could be manifestation of FAD]
- Redness on the skin
- Rough hair coat
CLINICAL SIGNS ASSOCIATED WITH FAD DEPENDS UPON:
- The frequency of flea exposure [how long your dog has been exposed to fleas]
- duration of disease [how long the treatment or prevention have been delayed for]
- presence of secondary or other concurrent skin disease [if there are secondary bacterial infections]
- degree of hypersensitivity [if your pet is comparatively sensitive to flea bites]
2. PARASITIC DISEASE:
Fleas carry one of the life cycle stage of tapeworm [dogs] named as Dipylidiumcaninum. So what happens here is, as mentioned earlier, fleas bite the skin and thus cause immense irritation to the dog. As a natural reflex, the dogs tend to bite or scratch their skin. Usually while biting, they might end up swallowing the flea. On swallowing, the fleas get digested in the stomach releasing the tapeworm organism. Thus, our pets end up suffering from tapeworm infection. It is indeed a complex system.
So how do I co-relate?
- Does your dog have fleas on body?
- Have you observed irritation, itching recently?
- Has your dog been given access to bushes, grass-laden areas?
- Have you observed white-rice grain seed like structure in your dog’s faeces?
- Then you might need to get your dog dewormed but along with this, you will definitely need to address the flea issue at the earliest.
HOW DO I PROTECT MY PET AGAINST TICKS AND FLEAS?
Thankfully, we can always protect our pets from tick-flea infection beforehand. Yes, ticks and fleas can be a nuisance, which potentially carry deadly infectious organisms like Babesia, Ehrlichia or dipylidium [tapeworm] but we can always safeguard our pets from the dangers by adopting preventive measures.
1. SPRAYS, SPOT-ONS AND SHAMPOOS
There are many chemical based anti-tick and anti-flea sprays available in the market. These drugs act by killing the flea and ticks which are present on the body. Chemical compounds such as fipronil, nitenpyram, afoxolaner, fluralaner, or spinosad are essentially active against these ecto-parasites providing relief to your pets from the flea-tick nuisance. These come in various formulations and forms like shampoos [while giving a bath you can effectively remove ticks and fleas] or in form of spot-on which give protection against ticks-fleas for a months’ time or in form of spray which you can apply after or before walks.
2. ANTI TICK & FLEA SHAMPOO: Me & My Ticks & Flea Pet Shampoo
With growing concerns of side-effects and ill-effects of chemical based flea and tick shampoo, Goel Vet Pharma presents Me& My Anti-Ticks & Flea Pet Shampoo which is made up of natural ingredients like Tea Tree &Neem Extract. This shampoo acts best against ticks and fleas and ensures that not only is your pet protected against ticks and fleas but also, has good skin and fur due to its natural products.
3. PROTECT YOUR BACKYARD
In case you have noticed your backyard being infested with ticks and fleas, you can opt for insecticide sprays or call pest-control to protect your pets and maintain good hygienic environment. This way you can always ensure double protection against these pests.
4. BRUSH YOUR PETS FUR OFTEN!
As simple as this sounds, brushing your pets’ fur with help of a comb can help in detecting or noticing fleas and ticks at the earliest so you can take necessary steps against the same!