The tick is an ectoparasite that uses a wide range of hosts to feed through its blood: horses, pigs, dogs, cats, ruminants, birds, rodents, etc. Of the approximately 800 species that exist worldwide, in Portugal there are a dozen and, within this group, there are especially two species that deserve our attention because they are the ones that parasitize our dogs. We will very briefly classify them based on basic morphological aspects, like this:
  • “Hard” ticks, where the cuticle that lines them is hard. This species resembles an “ordinary” insect, like a beetle.
  • “Soft” ticks, where the cuticle is soft. This species is preferably attached to the ears of animals and swells when it is filled with blood, resembling a bean.

Health consequences

The tick, when carrying microbes, is a danger to our dogs and also to public health. The increase in pets and, fundamentally, the successive and growing abandonment of dogs and cats, are decisive factors for the proliferation of this parasite. This situation has become very worrying, not only because of the discomfort that the tick causes to the animal, but mainly due to the diseases that it can transmit when biting it, when it has microbes, viruses, ricketssias and other agents. In humans, the bite can cause diseases, such as the so-called “tick fever”.

Life cycle

The tick’s life cycle is divided into 4 stages of development: the egg, the larva, the nymph and the adult. A single host can be parasitized by all these tick life cycles. An adult tick can create thousands of eggs, which will be released from the host by falling into the soil and developing here, if they find favorable conditions, which are preferably areas of low or medium height vegetation and with some degree of humidity.

How is it infested with ticks?

Ticks reach the dog’s body by direct contact. As they do not fly or jump, they usually settle in grasses and shrubs and wait for their future host to pass and rub this vegetation, providing for the effect of a special sensitivity that allows them to detect the approach and passage of the victim.

How to fight the tick?

As with fleas, the tick must not only be fought in the animal’s body, but also in the environment.
In all of its life stages (from larva to adult), the tick is very resistant. But the invisible forms of their life cycle, eggs and larvae, will remain in the environment and will survive for many months if appropriate measures are not taken.
In relation to public spaces. The most sensible solution to prevent the dog from catching ticks is to avoid taking it to infested places.
In the domestic environment, whether indoors or in the garden, all these places must be disinfected.