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The alluvial forest tick is a winner of climate change: dog owners in Europe are discovering the parasites on their four-legged friends more and more frequently. Because the alluvial forest tick is also active in the cold season, it also bears the name “winter tick”.

What is an alluvial forest tick?

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As the name suggests, the alluvial forest tick (Dermacentor reticulatus) is a type of tick that feels comfortable in alluvial forests. A riparian forest consists of trees, bushes, and other plants along streams and rivers. Floods often occur here and there is high humidity. The little pests of the spotted tick family also crawl around in moors and now in more and more other areas with similar vegetation.

Why does the alluvial forest tick attack dogs?

The younger stages of development of this tick, i.e. larvae and nymphs, stick to smaller mammals such as rabbits or mice. Adult alluvial forest ticks prefer to make themselves comfortable on large wild animals such as deer or wild boar. But if a dog comes along, it is not spurned. Both male and female alluvial forest ticks require blood from their host for reproduction. The alluvial forest tick mates on the respective host – the female after a suckling period of around eight days.

How do I recognize an alluvial forest tick?

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If you come across a tick in winter at temperatures just above freezing, there is a high probability that it is an alluvial forest tick. Because this parasite likes to look for a blood meal all year round and in cooler temperatures. “Go on a search” is to be understood literally. Because the alluvial forest tick does not sit like its relatives and wait for a victim to come by. She is actively crawling around to find a host. She is rarely out on hot July and August days.

At first glance, the alluvial forest tick differs from the common wood tick, the most common tick in Europe, by the marbling on the backplate. In addition, the females with a body length of 3 to 5 mm are slightly larger than the wood tuck females. Riparian forest ticks that are soaked with blood also reach larger proportions. We can only see with a magnifying glass: In contrast to the wood tick, alluvial forest ticks have eyes – sitting on the side of the shield.

Alluvial forest ticks and their distribution

The alluvial forest tick has lived in Europe for a long time, but mainly in the south and southwest.

More and more dog owners from Europe are discovering alluvial forest ticks on their dogs. Warm winters help the crawlers to find hosts even around Christmas time – and to reproduce. The alluvial forest tick is particularly widespread in Eastern Europe.

How dangerous is the alluvial forest tick for dogs?

Most tick bites are harmless. However, in some cases, the alluvial forest tick can transmit another disease: babesiosis. This disease, also known as “dog malaria”, is associated with a high fever and destroys the red blood cells in the dog. It can quickly become fatal for dogs.

Dangerous symptoms after being bitten by the alluvial forest tick

If your dog develops the following symptoms after being stung by an alluvial forest tick, he may have been diagnosed with babesiosis and you should consult a veterinarian with him.

  • fever
  • apathy
  • shortness of breath

Is the alluvial forest tick dangerous to humans?

Calm blood – humans are not among the preferred prey of the alluvial forest tick. She prefers to suck on dogs or games. However, if a sting occurs, the alluvial forest tick can transmit diseases to humans. It is considered to be a potential carrier of TBE, rabbit plague, and – in very rare cases – Q fever.

Remove alluvial forest ticks from dogs

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Have you spotted an alluvial forest tick on your dog? Then you should remove them as soon as possible! Because the sooner you remove them, the lower the risk that the tick will transmit diseases to the dog. The easiest way to remove it is to use tools – for example, a tick tweezer. Alternatively, you can use tweezers. Do not use oil, glue, or other supposed helpers. Because the tick could vomit into the skin wound in agony and thus transmit diseases. There is also no need for any special technology.

How to protect your dog from the alluvial forest tick

If your four-legged friend is regularly plagued by ticks, you should prevent them. It does not matter whether it is the common wood tick, an alluvial forest tick, or other ticks. All ticks can transmit diseases. The special thing about the alluvial forest tick, however, is that it can require tick protection all year round. Some dog owners have had good experiences with home remedies for ticks. For example, coconut oil can help against riparian forest ticks. However, you can be on the safe side with a tick repellent from the vet.

  • Home remedies like coconut oil and brewer’s yeast
  • Tick collar from specialist retailers
  • Spot-on from specialist retailers
  • Spot-on or tick collar from the vet
  • Tick tablets from the vet

Warning: some tick remedies for dogs are toxic to cats in tiny amounts! Therefore, read the package instructions carefully if the dog has contact with cats.

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