Here’s What to Do When You Think Your Dog May Have a Tick
Spring is finally here, and that means summer is right around the corner! These warmer months mean bonfires, trips to the beach, barbeques, and….ticks. If the thought of a tick makes you shudder, you are not alone. I have yet to meet someone who isn’t completely grossed out by these blood sucking parasites.
Besides being completely disgusting, ticks are also a threat to our health. They have been known to carry a number of different diseases, including lyme disease. Knowing what to look for, how to prevent ticks, and how to safely remove them is vital information for every person, and especially any dog owner, to have.
What Is A Tick?
Ticks are parasites that feed on the blood of various warm-blooded hosts. Because of their size and habit of hiding in hard-to-reach places, they often go unnoticed on the host for a long period of time. Unfortunately, they can transmit diseases through their bite, which makes them dangerous as well as annoying.
Where Do They Live?
Ticks live in moist and humid environments, and are extremely prevalent in wooded or grassy areas. They can’t fly or jump, but they have no problem finding a host. They search for and find a host by detecting the breath, body heat and body odor of a potential host. They wait for hosts along well-traveled paths, and sit on the top of grass and shrubs, waiting for a host to walk by, where they quickly grab on and find a place to feed.
Ahhh! A Tick Is Attached To My Dog! What Now?
First, don’t panic. Just because a tick is attached to your dog does not mean they are going to get a disease, and it’s important to remove the tick calmly so that you don’t create more problems for you and your dog. There is a way to remove ticks from your dog that is painless and fairly easy as long as you are doing it correctly.
Follow these steps to safely remove a tick from your dog.
5. Grab Your Supplies
- Rubber gloves – You shouldn’t handle a tick with bare hands. Get some rubber gloves to wear while you are handling the tick.
- Tweezers or a commercial tick remover tool
- A jar
- Isopropyl alcohol (to put in the jar)
- A helping hand
4. Get That Tick Out!
- If you’re using tweezers:
- Grab onto the tick as close to your dog’s skin as possible, while being gentle. You should pull upwards with a steady pressure.
- Be sure to not twist, jerk, squeeze, or crush the body of the tick while removing it. Doing so can cause the tick to break apart and leave body parts attached to your dog, or it may cause the tick to regurgitate infective fluids into your dog’s bloodstream.
- Put the tick in your jar.
- If you’re using a tick remover:
- Gently press the remover tool against your dog’s skin near the tick and carefully slide the notch of the remover under the tick.
- Continue sliding the remover until the tick is caught in the small end of the notch and is pulled free. The tick will remain in the bowl of the remover.
3. Why The Jar?
Throwing a tick away or flushing them down the toilet does not kill them, and you shouldn’t crush them because they can release body fluids that are gross and dangerous. It is also a good idea to keep them around for a while in case your dog falls ill and your vet wants to test the tick for possible diseases. The best way to kill them and keep them available is to place them in a jar with some isopropyl alcohol, safely out of reach of curious children and pets.
Disinfect the bite on your dog with antiseptic and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water. Sterilize the tweezers or tools used to remove the tick. Then give your dog a treat for being a patient pup during his ordeal!
1. Monitor Your Pup
Keep a close eye on the bite area for a few weeks and look for any signs of a possible infection. If the area suddenly becomes red or inflamed, bring your dog to the vet, along with the tick in the jar for possible testing.
How Do I Prevent Ticks?
A daily tick check should be mandatory in any household that spends time outside and has dogs or humans. Every time after your dog goes outside, you should check them thoroughly for ticks. You shouldn’t just limit tick checks for the canine members of your household. Ticks move very quickly from host to host after they are done feeding, so a tick may enter your house on you, and then move onto one of your animals. A daily tick check for every family member after an outdoor activity is a good idea.
A topical flea and tick application can also help prevent these parasites from harming your pup. It is important to discuss your choice of flea and tick prevention with your veterinarian, and to pay close attention to dosage information according to body size.