Have you found a mysterious mass embedded in your pet’s skin? Does it have tiny little legs resting on the surface of your pet’s skin? For your pet’s health and overall well-being, it is crucial to learn as much information as possible about the subject of ticks. The parasite you are dealing with might be a tick!
Although visually repulsive, and unnerving, they can also be life-threatening. Harmful tick-borne diseases include Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Powassan, plus many more. Did you know….that ticks carry Lyme disease in almost half of the counties within the United States, according to a new report from the CDC? Educating yourself on the topic of ticks will enable you to identify them as quickly as possible, leading to faster removal, and a decreased chance of disease transmission. In addition to disease transmission, the tick feeding process may cause serious health issues including severe toxemias, blood loss due to large consumption of blood, or potential death in animals. It is for these reasons that the entire tick should be removed immediately! Be forewarned: improper removal won’t get rid of the tick, and, may cause a tick-borne disease to spread faster.
In this guide, our team at TickZapper® provides helpful information on how to identify specific ticks and tick bites. We also provide information on how the Revolutionary TickZapper®, a tick removal tool that removes the entire tick (including mouthparts!) – quickly, easily, safely – without risk of direct, human contact! Read on to learn more and get your own TickZapper® today!
What Are Ticks?
Ticks are blood-feeding arthropods, found throughout most regions of the world. They are also sub-classified as chelicerates…meaning they have six pairs of appendages (four pairs for walking, two for feeding; no antennae; no biting mandible). Among the world’s most common ectoparasites, they live by feeding on the blood of mammals, birds, and sometimes reptiles and amphibians.
There are approximately 900 species of ticks known to exist throughout the world. Though many of these tick species vary in physical traits, behavior, and habitat, they all have shared, common characteristics that may be used as a means of identification for those who encounter them. There are also ‘hard’ ticks as well as ‘soft’ ticks. Fun Fact: Did you know that ticks do not have heads? Read More HERE!
Ticks do vary in size, but few are larger than 3–5 millimeters (roughly 0.1–0.2 inches) in length – when not engorged (pre-feeding). When engorged, they can swell to several centimeters in length. Ticks are long-term ‘pool feeders’…they tear through the host’s skin, tearing vessels from which blood will pool and be consumed rapidly. After which, ticks may expand from five to ten times their pre-feeding body weight
Female Tick Preparing to Feed: Half of her mouthparts have pierced the skin.
Identifying Specific Tick Species
It is important to identify any parasite on your pet, especially in the case of ticks. Identification can help you learn more about the species you have encountered, and whether your pet may be at risk for contracting a specific tick-borne disease. While the best way to identify a tick is to safely and completely remove it from your pet’s body (and submit for testing, if needed. There are distinguishing features you can look for to narrow down your list of tick suspects.
Externally, ticks are divided into three regions: the idiosoma (body region), the capitulum (mouthparts), and the legs. When attached, mouthparts will be fully embedded into the host’s skin. However, the body section and legs will remain on the skin’s surface. When engorged (collecting blood), the tick’s body will resemble a bulbous skin tag, and usually appears to be grey or brown in color.
Location and Time of Year
Two of the biggest factors to consider when identifying a tick is where and when it was found. Ticks may be active in specific regions at documented times of the year. By simply being aware of when and where you encountered the tick, you can narrow down your list of tick suspects, considerably. Use this Current Tick Activity map and calendar to find out when and where ticks will be active, and what diseases to be aware of, especially in your area!
Identifying Tick Bites…Signs To Watch For!
If you suspect that your pet has been bitten by a tick, be aware of signs that may require immediate attention.
The first, of course, is discovering the tick, itself. Unlike other insects, which will simply bite and depart, ticks attach themselves to their hosts and feed on blood for a number of hours, possibly days, before moving on to the next host. If your pet has recently spent time outdoors, make sure to do a thorough tick check immediately upon returning! Helpful Tick Check Tips Read More HERE!
Secondly, be acutely aware of any unusual symptoms in your pet that may require immediate medical attention. Symptoms including but are not limited to: Fever, Loss of Appetite, Reduced Energy, Lameness, Stiffness Pain, Excessive Itching, Behavioral Changes, Swelling of Joints, and, in rare cases, Paralysis.
Did You Find a Tick on Your Pet?
Click here to learn more about how to remove an entire tick (including mouthparts!) from your dog, cat, or other animals – safely, quickly & easily – without risk of human contact. Purchase your very own TickZapper® HERE!