Tick, Tick, Tick…it’s Summer!
Summertime is a fun time with your dog.
You both enjoy romping in the grass, running through fields, and exploring forests. But summer is also a time when ticks are active. They are found in every region of the United States and much of the rest of the world.
What are ticks?
Ticks are a type of mite. They are parasites that live off the blood of other animals. Although there are some ticks that are partial to reptiles or amphibians and others that prefer birds, most ticks will attach themselves to any warm-blooded creature. So not only is your dog fair game, so are you.
There are over 800 different kinds of ticks worldwide. There are both hard-bodied and soft-bodied ticks. They are small and usually brown, tan or black in color.
Although some people and animals are allergic to tick bites, the main danger comes from the diseases they can spread. The bite can also itch and cause other discomfort to your dog. For these reasons, and because ticks can spread from animals to humans, it’s important you get ticks off your dog as soon as possible.
How can you find them?
Since ticks are so small, you need to look for them carefully. Comb your dog’s fur slowly, while checking the skin for a feeding tick or skin irritation. Ticks like areas with less fur, so pay very close attention as you check under you dog’s legs, his belly, between his toes, his ear flaps, and even in his ears.
How to remove a tick.
If you do find a tick, it’s important that you remove it carefully and completely. Ticks only insert their mouthparts into the skin, but they maintain a very tight grip. When you find a tick on your dog, it’s important that you remove the entire body intact because any pieces left under the skin can cause infection.
You should wear gloves to protect yourself against any diseases the tick may be carrying. You’ll also need a pair of tweezers, some isopropyl alcohol in a small bottle (with a lid, if possible) and some dog-safe disinfectant or antiseptic cream.
Using the tweezers, grab the tick as close to your dog’s skin as possible without pinching your dog. Pull the tick straight out, using a steady motion. You may feel a slight resistance initially, but the tick should then back out. Be careful not to jerk or twist the tweezers and make sure no part of the tick stays embedded in your dog’s skin.
Drop the tick into the alcohol in the small bottle and cap the bottle. The alcohol will kill the tick. Keep the tick. Should your dog become ill, having the tick can help your vet diagnose your dog’s illness.
Wash the area where the tick was attached to your dog thoroughly with warm, soapy water and then put some of the medicated cream on the area.
If you do find one tick, check the surrounding area very thoroughly. Often if you find one tick, there will be more nearby.
Watch for signs of infection or illness.
Keep an eye on the area where the tick was attached for several days to make sure there are no signs of infection.
Also be especially alert for signs of illness in your dog. Loss of appetite, fatigue, swollen joints and/or lymph nodes, fever, lameness, or reluctance to move could all be signs that your dog has contracted a disease carried by the tick. Take both your dog and the dead tick to the vet right away so your vet can begin the proper treatment.
Summertime is a great time to be out and about with your furry companion. Be sure to check your dog thoroughly for ticks each time you come in so you can enjoy more adventures for years to come.