The American Dog Tick (Dermacentor Varibilis) Explained

The most common type of ticks in the US is the American dog tick which is also known as the Dermacentor Variabilis or the wood tick. This type of tick may carry several bacteria and cause tularemia or the Rocky Mountain spotted fever. In some cases the American dog tick may cause tick paralysis.

Tick Species

There are several types of ticks that may be found in the woodlands, mountainous areas and will typically attach themselves to the skin of the pet. The earliest tick discovered (in a piece of amber) dates back to the Cretaceous period, over 65 million years ago.

The most well known tick in the US include the American dog tick or the Dermacentor Variabilis (wood tick) and the Ixodes scapularis deer tick. There are also other ticks such as the Ixodes pacificus that target mostly cattle and are less frequent in dogs.

These ticks are hard ticks.

The American Dog Tick (Dermacentor Variabilis)

The Dermacentor Variabilis or the American dog tick is a 3 to 5 millimeters in size and belongs to the Ixodidae family of insects, to the class of Arachnida. The tick is dark brown and may have different patterns or dots. These ticks are common in the summer season.

The American dog ticks live on animal blood and target mammals and birds and occasionally reptiles and amphibians.

The American dog ticks are vectors for several diseases that may cause complications in canines.

Diseases Caused by the American Dog Tick

The most common disease caused by ticks is the Lyme disease. The American dog tick will not carry the Borrelia burgdorferi, which is the main Lyme disease causing agent.

However, the American dog tick may carry other bacteria that may cause the Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) as well as the tularemia.

The American dog tick may also cause the hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HG) as it carries the Anaplasma phagocytophilum.

In rare cases, the American dog tick may cause HME (human monocytic ehrlichiosis) in humans, so it is important to wear protective gloves when handling a tick.

The Dermacentor Variabilis tick may cause tick paralysis, as it may release a neurotoxin that will lead to muscular paralysis.

The most common tick that causes the Lyme disease is the deer tick.

If you notice a tick on your pet, you should remove it immediately; typically, it takes between 4 to 6 hours for the tick to release the toxins into the dog’s blood flow. Removing the tick before this interval may prevent the occurrence of these infections. However, it is advisable to visit the vet after you extract a tick from your pet to make sure your pet stays healthy. It’s also helpful to take the tick and show it to the vet, as the vet will identify the tick and check for diseases that are spread by that certain type of ticks.