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American Dog Tick Information from the Main West Animal Hospital in Welland

March 13, 2012

The American dog tick, also know by it’s scientific name-  dermacentor variabilis ,  is the most common species of tick that we encounter in Welland, Port Colborne, Pelham, Fonthill and in Niagara as a whole.  If you’ve walked your dog outside the past few years you are likely to have had an introduction to these pesky parasites.  Our veterinarians at the Main West Animal Hospital in Welland have noticed a significant increase in these parasites on dogs in the past decade.


American Dog Tick- Dermacentor Variabilis

Ticks belong to the  group known as arachnids.  The arachnid family also includes Mites, Spiders and Scorpions.  All members of this class of animals can be distinguished by the fact that they all have eight legs (compared to insects six (6) legs), no antennae, and no wings. They are not insects, although they are commonly mistaken for them.

American Dog ticks prefer to feed on dogs, but given the opportunity they will also feed on humans and other mammals.  Females ticks lay thousands of eggs on the ground but they don’t typically lay eggs in the house- Whew!!! The eggs hatch into larvae  These larvae remain close to where they were hatched and climb up on grass and plants so they  can catch a ride on animals that walk by them.  Larvae will feed  for about a week  on the animal then they drop to the ground.  Larvae then moult to the 8-legged Nymphal stage. The nymphs attach themselves to a second animal. After feeding on the animal, the Nymphs moults to the Adult Dog Tick.


Tick Life Cycle

American Dog Ticks are able to survive without food for a long period of time. The entire life cycle can take up to 3 years to complete.  Adult males will die after fertilizing females. Female adults die after they lay their eggs.

American Dog Ticks can cause diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia and tick paralysis. Thankfully we almost never see cases of these diseases from dog  ticks in the Niagara Region.  If you have problems with dog ticks please don’t hesitate to contact our veterinary clinic staff at the Main West Animal Hospital in Welland, 905-735-7877 or at  [email protected] .  We carry a number of Veterinary Approved products for dogs that can help decrease the number of ticks you have on your dog.