Naturally, all dogs are going to spend a lot of time outside. And while measures can be taken to prevent fleas and ticks from bothering your pup, they are not necessarily effective 100 percent of the time. Even if you use things like special shampoos, chewable tablets and treats, sprays, and collars that are specifically made to repel fleas and ricks, and you keep away from tall grass, bushes, and heavily wooded areas, ticks can still find their way to your dog. Furthermore, while both fleas and ticks are bothersome and annoying to your dog, they also spread diseases.
Ticks are a lot more dangerous than fleas. The good news is that a tick can be removed, and if you are not able to seek the help of a veterinarian, which is always the best and safest option, you can do it yourself.
The Importance of Removing a Tick from Your Dog
Ticks not only fly but also spread dangerous diseases like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain fever that can be fatal to your dog. Lyme disease can lead to lameness by causing swelling and arthritis of your pup’s joints, and Rocky Mountain fever can do the same, in addition to causing other problems. Some other tick-borne diseases are babesiosis, tularemia, tick-borne relapsing fever, and ehrlichiosis. As a result of a certain toxin they produce while feeding, some female ticks can actually cause a rare form of paralysis. If ticks feed long enough on your dog, they can also cause anemia. These cases are rare but do happen.
Ticks are related to spiders and have six to eight legs. When they attach to your pup, they really hold on tight, and if undisturbed, they can remain attached and feeding off your dog for a long time—larvae remain for up to three days, nymphs stay for three to four days, and adult females can stay as long as seven to ten days. This gives them plenty of time to cause damage.
If you’ve ever had to deal with a tick on your pup, you know they are pesky things to remove. Ticks attach to your pup’s skin by inserting their mouthparts into it. They can also produce a sticky substance that helps them stay attached. The sites where the ticks attach can become inflamed, red, and irritated. Sometimes, the head of a tick remains embedded in the dog’s skin after the tick has been removed. This is not dangerous, even though it can cause minor inflammation around the area. It is recommended, however, not to try to dig out a tick’s head because it can actually cause more inflammation than it would if left alone. It will usually fall out on its own within thirty-six hours. If it doesn’t, however, you should go ahead and call your dog’s veterinarian.
How to Spot a Tick on Your Dog
You should check your dog for ticks periodically. Thoroughly and carefully inspect your furry friend’s entire body by running your hands over his or her belly, legs, back, armpits, between the toes, inside the ears, and around the face. If you happen to feel a swollen area or a bump anywhere, push your dog’s hair aside and look for the tick that is probably buried in there. It may take some digging around because some ticks may be smaller and harder to find. They can be the size of a pin’s head, and they’re usually black, brown, or tan in color. When you locate the tick successfully, you can prepare to remove it.
Steps to Safely Remove a Tick from Your Dog
You should always wear gloves when removing a tick from your dog because diseases can be transmitted not just to your pet but to you too. You also need a pair of tick-removing tweezers, rubbing alcohol, antiseptic, and a Ziploc bag.
Here are the steps to take in order to remove a tick from your dog:
- Without pinching the skin, grasp the tick with the tweezers and make sure that you get a good grip that is as close to the skin as possible.
- Exert pressure slowly but firmly without twisting or turning the tweezers. Start pulling the tick until the head is released, and try to make sure that you pull out the entire tick.
- Pour a little bit of the rubbing alcohol in the Ziploc bag, and place the tick inside. It will still be alive when you pull it out, but the alcohol will kill it. Make sure to hold onto the bag just in case you need to show it to your pup’s vet.
- Using the antiseptic, clean the area where the tick was attached to your dog’s skin.
- Sterilize the tweezers with rubbing alcohol.
- Remove your gloves, and make sure you do it without touching them. Take off one glove and hold it in your other hand that is still gloved. By putting your fingers at the top of your gloved hand’s wrist and inside the second glove, peel off the remaining glove. As you are peeling it off and pulling it away from your body, turn it inside out and let the first glove remain inside it. After disposing of the gloves, wash and sterilize your hands.
During the following week, keep an eye on the area where the tick was attached to make sure no irritation appears.
There are myths about tick removal methods that you shouldn’t fall for because they can actually make a tick latch onto your pup’s skin even tighter and burrow itself even deeper instead of making it let go or fall off on its own. They can also cause it to deposit even more of its disease-carrying secretions into the wound and increase the chances of infection. These methods include touching the tick with a hot match, covering it with nail polish or petroleum jelly in order to suffocate it, and freezing it off.
Stay aware of ticks on dogs and do your best to try and prevent them from attacking your pet, but don’t panic if he or she gets one every now and then. Having to remove it can be a little nerve-racking and is no fun, but it is not hard, and, most of the time, it can be dealt with swiftly.