Tick Facts You Probably Don’t Know

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Ticks present one of the most common threats to your pets, especially at this time of year.  Ticks are a dogs and cats worst enemy for a variety of reasons; they can transmit diseases, cause anemia, or even paralysis.  They feed on the blood of their hosts by attaching their mouth parts to the skin and can continue to feed for several hours to days, depending on the type of tick.

Tick paralysis in dogs is especially scary because of the sheer number of symptoms that may occur.  Signs to look for include vomiting, regurgitation, unsteadiness, increased blood pressure, a fast heart rate and rhythm, weakness (especially in the hind limbs), partial loss of muscle movements, complete loss of muscle movement (commonly seen in advanced disease state), poor reflexes or complete loss of reflex, low muscle tone, difficulty in eating, disorder of voice, asphyxia due to respiratory muscle paralysis in severely affected animal, excessive drooling, enlarged esophagus, and excessive dilatation of the pupil.

Here are some additional facts about ticks that you may not know: (from PetCareRX)

  • There are more than 800 species of ticks on this planet (that we know of).
  • Ticks belong to the Arachnida class – other friendly critters in this class include, but are not limited to mites, spiders and scorpions.
  • There are 2 families of ticks: Ixodidae and Argasidae.  Ixodidae are commonly known as hard ticks (because of their hard dorsal scutum, or shield), and Argasidae are usually referred to as soft ticks (as they have a soft exoskeleton and no scutum).
  • If you’re bitten by a tick in the continental United States, it is usually a hard tick.
  • The majority of ticks use 3 hosts, feeding on a different host for the larvae, nymph and adult life stages, respectively.
  • There are anti-inflammatory and anesthetic compounds in the saliva of hard ticks that make it less likely for their host(s) to notice that they’ve been bitten.
  • The saliva of hard ticks contain proteins with changing compositions, making it difficult for a host’s immune system to detect a threat.  This decreases the likelihood that the host’s immune system will even recognize that it’s being compromised.
  • While feeding on a host, certain ticks contain a neurotoxin in their saliva that can induce “tick paralysis.”  This condition progresses gradually (usually starting 5 to 9 days after attachment), however, the symptoms dissipate soon after the tick is (properly) removed.
  • Hard ticks have a very long single feeding session, whereas soft ticks have several feeding sessions separated by a few hours.
  • After feeding, female hard ticks swell up much more than female soft ticks.
  • No time for cuddling—male ticks die right after mating.

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