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Dog Health:The Life Cycle of a Tick

It’s always fun to take your dog on runs in the woods or hikes in the hills. The experience offers you a great workout and is full of awesome views that you simply can’t get running on a treadmill at the gym. Even better, your dog adores every second of it. However, anytime you head for the hills or go into the woods, the chances that your pup brings home a tick increases.

Ticks are pretty common, especially for dogs since they can go unnoticed beneath a dog’s fur. If removed in a timely manner, ticks do not pose much of a threat to your dog. However, if a tick goes undetected and stays attached to your pup for too long, it can cause some havoc.

If your dog has acquired a tick, here’s a guide for removing it safely, as well as some tips for preventing them in the future.

What are Ticks?

Ticks are parasitic arthropods that feed on the blood of their hosts. They are attracted to warmth and motion, which is why they are most attracted to mammals, such as humans and your dog. Ticks spend a great deal of their time waiting for a host, often hiding in tall grasses, vegetation, or wooded areas. Once a tick senses a host, the tick climbs on and bites into the skin of the host to begin feeding on the host’s blood. Once locked in place, the tick will not detach until its meal is complete or it is forcibly removed by the host. Depending on the type of tick, it will continue to feed for anywhere from a few hours to several days.

On dogs, ticks often attach themselves in crevices and/or areas with little to no hair, typically in and around the ears, the areas where the insides of the legs meet the body, between the toes, and within skin folds.

Stage One: Egg

The first stage of a tick’s life is as an egg. A female tick will lay anywhere between 4,000 and 6,500 eggs. Once laid, eggs will take between 36 and 57 days to hatch. Once a tick hatches from their egg, they enter the second stage of their life.

Stage Two: Larvae

Ticks hatch from there eggs in the spring or summer months. Upon hatching, ticks are born as larvae, which is considered their second stage. Ticks remain in the larvae stage for about the 9 months. During this stage, a larvae grows and experiences their first feed. Typically, the first host for a tick is a smaller animal such as a mouse or smaller bird. If a larvae successfully feeds, it will evolve to stage three.

Stage Three: Nymph

After successfully feeding during the larval stage, a tick will become dormant for the fall and winter months. When they awake in the spring, they’ll be much bigger than they were as larvae. Nymphs will feed from May to July. Nymphs will target larger mammals than they did as larvae. Typically a nymph will try and feed on deer, but occasionally will go after humans, dogs, and cats.

During this period of time, nymphs can transmit disease-causing organism, such as the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. If you, or your dog, acquire a tick in the nymph stage, it’s best to check with a doctor or vet to ensure you were not contaminated.

Stage Four: Adult

If a tick successfully finds a host during their nymph stage, they will again become dormant in the winter and awake in the spring as an adult. In this stage, a tick has reached its full size, becoming twice as large as it was during the nymph stage. Adult males will search for a host during adulthood. Females will lay eggs during the winter. After laying eggs, female ticks complete their life cycle and die.

Learn More About Dog Health at PetPlace

Ticks are nasty little pests that can cause harm to you and your dog. Anytime you take your dog in a wooded area, a field that is densely vegetated, or in the hills, you should inspect them for ticks after wars. Learn more about safety precautions you can take with your dog at PetPlace today!