If you have a dog then you are likely headed out for daily walks that may take place in grassy areas. While great for both you and your dog, these areas may hold the hidden danger of ticks. Today our Bedford vets share some information about ticks and how to effectively remove a tick from your dog.
How Do Ticks Affect the Health of Dogs?
The illnesses spread by ticks can affect different parts of your dog's body from the skin to their organs, and in some instances can even be fatal.
In some cases, symptoms of tick-borne diseases may not appear until several weeks after your pet has become infected with the disease.
This makes it very important to routinely check for ticks every time you come in from a walk.
How You Can Efficiently Remove Ticks on Dogs
Here, our Bedford vets offer some simple steps to follow for removing a tick that has attached to your dog. It is very important that you wear gloves while performing the tick removal in order to also protect yourself as ticks can also pass diseases onto humans. If you don't feel confident removing a tick from your dog, contact your vet. Many vet clinics are happy to have you come in and learn how to remove ticks or handle the job for you quickly, without and fuss.
Check Over Your Dog After Each Walk
Ticks are typically found in grassy or forest areas. The ticks will spend their time waiting on a branch or piece of grass and when a warm host walks past they will grab on. This is why it is essential to check your pet any time your dog has been near areas where ticks could be lurking.
Here is how you can check your dog for ticks:
- Simply your fingers through your pet's fur and feel for any lumps, bumps or swollen patches on their skin.
- Be sure not to miss your pup's legs, ears, face, neck, and between their toes when checking for ticks.
Examine Lumps That May be Ticks
If you feel something suspicious it's time to investigate.
- Part your dog's fur to get a clear look. An engorged tick is relatively easy to find and identify. Most ticks are brown, black or tan in color and all have eight legs. Before feeding a tick may only be the size of a poppy seed but once engorged a single tick could be a third of an inch (10mm) in size.
How To Quickly Remove Ticks
To remove a tick from your dog (or cat) quickly and safely you will need a few basic tools:
- Protect yourself from tick saliva by wearing gloves.
- Clean tweezers or a tick removal tool are used to grasp the tick and pull it out.
- Apply a disinfectant or antiseptic cream to clean the site after removal.
Using Tweezers For Removal
- Without accidentally pinching your dog's fur, use the tweezers and grab the tick at the point closest to your dog's skin.
- do not rush. Pull smoothly and steadily. Try not to jerk or jump as you will need to remove the entire tick including the mouthparts.
Using a Specialized Tick Removal Tool
Some people may choose to use a specially designed tick removal tool. This tool looks like a small hammer. They have a flat head (or gently curved head) with a notch cut out in the middle. These handy, easy-to-use tools are available at most well-stocked pet supply stores, or your vet may be able to provide you with one.
- Press the flat head of the tick removal tool against your dog's skin, near the tick.
- Slide the head of the tool forward (while still pressed against the skin) so that the tick's body is on the top of the notch, then gently lift the tick out with an upward motion (for flat tools) or with a gentle roll backward (for a curved tool).
Dispose of the Dead Tick
while not every tick you ever find will be infected, you should always proceed with the same steps as though they are. Contact your vet to see if they want you to bring it in for an ID check and/or to test the tick to see if it's carrying any diseases that may have been passed to your pet.
- How to transport a tick to your vet's office:
- If so you can place the tick in a baggie or pill bottle to take to your vet. Your vet's office will provide you with instructions on how to preserve the tick.
- Label the bottle with the date, and where on your dog you found the tick (so you can check the site later for signs of infection)
- If you are not taking the tick in to be tested here's what you should do:
- Ensure that the tick is dead before disposing of it. This can be done by dropping the tick into the isopropyl alcohol. Once dead you can simply dispose of the tick in the garbage.
- Do not throw live ticks in the garbage, outside, or down the toilet.
- Do not use your fingers to crush the tick as this could result in the spread of disease.
Thoroughly Clean the Area
- Clean the site where the tick was latched on to your dog, using alcohol, an antiseptic swap, or soap and water.
- Dispose of the gloves used during extraction and wash your hands well.
Care After Tick Bites
Keep an eye on the site of the tick bite over the next 2 weeks. Look for any redness or swelling, particularly look for a red ring around the spot that looks somewhat like a target. This target appearance can be an indication of Lyme disease.
If you notice any redness of signs of infection you should contact your Bedford vets right away. Early treatment of disease is typically the most effective.
Preventive Care Against Ticks
Preventing conditions spread by parasites can help to ensure your dog's long-term good health. There are many effective parasite prevention products available to help protect your pup from ticks. Speak to your vet to find out which preventive medication is best for your canine companion.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.