Invasion of the Body Scratchers! Part 3: Ticks & Lice
4 CommentsMonday, 22 April 2013 | Kate
Last week we were looking at mange and ear mites if you missed it you can find it here. This week we'll be looking at Ticks and Lice; these tricky little parasites can make your dog's life an itchy hell so keep reading to find out how to keep them at bay.
Infamous for being the vehicle for a plethora of different diseases, including Lymes disease, the tick is a common problem for many dog owners. They are usually picked up from wooded areas and dense foliage such as long grass and bushes. These parasites are not jumping insects unlike fleas and require contact to attach themselves to a host or dropping on a host from above from higher foliage. It's why you often find them under the chin, lodged behind an ear or on top of your dog's head.
These are the only type of ticks you'll need to worry about unless your dog has been to Africa recently. These ticks can be spotted by the naked eye as they have a large white body and they are usually found on warm parts of the body like the armpits and groin. Ticks feed by hematophagy (feeding on the blood of other animals) and are most abundant during the summer from April to October. Your dog won't feel a tick bite because there is an anaesthetic in tick saliva so you might not realise there is a problem. You can feel them as a small bump when you're stroking your dog.
You can get rid of ticks yourself using an O'Tom Tick Twister. It is best to remove ticks with a proper tick remover because it is important to remove ticks correctly. Removing a tick using tweezers or your fingertips can result in squeezing and bursting the tick, or leaving the mouth parts of the tick embedded in your dog which in turn could result in an infection.
To keep ticks away during walks use CSJ's Skinny Spray before a walk to repel parasites during your daily constitutional.
These parasites can be seen by the naked eye but a magnifying glass or similar does help to identify them. They're small, also wingless and pale in colour. A singular individual of these parasites is a louse, and the eggs are commonly referred to as nits. In most dogs that are well taken care of lice should not be a problem but when they do infest a dog they can be irritating little devils.
Preferring the hunter approach, lice typically infest weaker and older dogs whose bodies will have less chance of fighting back. Lice cause intense pruritus and chronic irritation which of course means that dogs can scratch themselves into a state if they become infested. Dermatitis is common after lice have moved onto a dog as is hair loss and poor skin condition. There are two main types of lice that affect dogs, Trichodectes canis (canine biting lice) and Linognathus setosus (canine sucking lice).
Trichodectes canis (canine biting lice)
These lice are found almost worldwide and can inhabit almost any animal, they do not jump as fleas do but spread from animal to animal via direct contact. Biting lice live on a host for the entirety of their lives so when they reproduce the cycle will start again and continue until interrupted. When laying her eggs a female louse will glue them to hair follicles which will then take between five and eight days to hatch. This may sound familiar if you've ever run a comb through your children's hair. Biting lice do not feed on blood like a lot of parasites but instead eat the flakes of skin and scales on a dog's body.
Linognathus setosus (canine sucking lice)
These sucking lice feed on the blood of their host every few hours and usually affect cats and dogs; they do not survive on humans for more than a few hours. If left to themselves these lice will feed continuously and an infestation will keep growing which can lead to on-going itchiness, scratching, biting and chewing. They are egg shaped with a head smaller than their thorax and brown and white in colour. They can be spotted by the naked eye as they are fairly large by comparison to other parasites.
In either case Ekoneem Oil will help to sooth irritated and itching skin and it won't get licked off either because it has a pungent fragrance. For on-going parasite control Billy No Mates really is your best bet as it's a natural herbal alternative to chemical pesticides.
Click here to read about fleas in part 4.