Every year, tick bites are responsible for causing thousands of dogs becoming infected with serious diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis. If you live in a grassy or woody area, you need to check your pet for ticks every day. Although ticks are more prevalent in places like the Northeast, they can be found everywhere in the United States.
A tick survives by feeding on blood. It takes 24 hours of the tick feeding to infect an animal. This is why it is crucial to find and remove them early, as this can actually stop your dog from getting sick in the first place. Not to mention, you don’t want a tick to be brought into your home so it can feed on your blood and make you sick.
Checking Your Dog for Ticks
Before bringing your dog indoors, check him for ticks. This makes it less likely for a tick to come into your home. To do this, use your fingers to comb through his fur. Gently press down in order to feel any bumps that may be present on the skin. Keep in mind that ticks come in many different sizes, from as small as a pinhead to as large as a grape. Don’t forget to check places like the feet, in between the toes, around the ears and around the neck and face. Should you feel a bump, part your dog’s fur so that you can take a look at it. A tick is a black, brown, or grayish-brown bug. You could see its legs but you may only see its body.
Removing a Tick
- Gather your supplies. You will need latex or rubber gloves, rubbing alcohol, antibiotic ointment, a pair of tweezers or a tool designed for tick removal, available at your local pet supply store.
- Put on your gloves. Locate the tick again by parting your dog’s hair so that the skin and tick are exposed.
- If you have tweezers, grab the tick as close to your dog’s skin as possible and pull up underneath it. The goal is to remove it in this one motion. If you jerk, part of the body might break off and get lodged in your dog’s skin.
- If you have a tick remover tool instead, place the forked end underneath the tick, close to the skin. Be sure to not pull straight out as this can cause the tick to break and leave part of it behind. Instead, turn the tool slowly in a clockwise motion a few times. This will cause the tick to let go of your dog.
- Place the tick into a plastic bag or another sealed container with rubbing alcohol in it, which will work to kill the tick. It should be saved in this container for a few weeks. The reason you should do this is so that in case your dog becomes ill, your veterinarian will be able to examine the tick and see if it is the cause.
- Use antiseptic to clean the bite and the skin around it. You may then put some antibiotic ointment on it. Use alcohol to clean your tools and wash your hands as well.
- Over the next few weeks, check the bite area often. If it should look irritated or infected, contact your veterinarian. Should your dog seem extra tired, have difficulty walking or doesn’t drink or eat like he usually does, take him to your veterinarian and bring the tick along with you.
You may be wondering if there is a way to prevent ticks in the first place. There is no guaranteed way to keep your dog free of ticks, however there are certain medicines that can lower your dog’s chances of getting sick from them. There are many tick control products out there, which include topicals, sprays, powders, dips, shampoos and collars. Perhaps the most popular and the easiest to use are topical insecticides that are administered once a month. In general, they also will last the longest. Be sure to check the label carefully, as some products will kill both ticks and fleas, where others only take care of fleas. Frontline® Plus is a topical product that handles both ticks and fleas quite effectively.