DOG / grooming
Tick Removal and Prevention Tips
Dogs are happiest running and playing outside, but without proper tick prevention, doing what they love best could potentially expose them to harmful tick-borne diseases. Ticks are common parasites that can lurk in damp, grassy, bushy or wooded areas — even on sandy beaches. If a tick finds its way onto an animal — like your dog or you — it’ll latch on and suck its host’s blood. Ticks are most active in spring, summer and fall, but they’re hardy and can survive at temperatures below freezing. There are many species of ticks, but they can all be killed with the same treatment. If your canine companion does come home with a parasitic pest on their skin, you should be prepared with the right tools and knowledge to remove it. Learn what steps to take to remove a tick from your dog and how to prevent them from attracting ticks in the first place.
Why Are Ticks Dangerous for My Dog?
It’s just a insect; what’s the big deal? Ticks can transmit several diseases to your dog, so it’s important to protect your furry best friend from these parasites. Lyme disease is perhaps the most well-known disease carried by ticks, but there are many tick-borne diseases and illnesses, including:
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
- Lyme Disease
- Tick Paralysis
- Ehrlichiosis (a bacterial infection)
How Do I Spot a Tick?
Give your dog a good visual check every time they come in from outside. Ticks like to lurk in dark, closed spots, like the insides of ears, between the toes and footpads, in the armpits and under the tail. Check your pets all over just to be safe. Be sure to take extra care with long-haired dogs and pups with thicker fur. It can be difficult to spot ticks on these pets, so it’s a good idea to feel under their fur with your hands, especially in areas ticks tend to like the most.
How Do I Safely Remove a Tick From My Dog?
If you do happen to find a tick on your dog, your immediate reaction may be to simply pull it off of them. However, if you twist it at all, this may cause the tick’s mouth to break off in your pet’s skin. Instead, grab a pair of tweezers and some rubbing alcohol. Tick removal is tricky but can be done if you know what to do ahead of time. Follow these steps to safely and effectively remove a tick from your dog:
- Swab the little vampire with rubbing alcohol, which can annoy it into loosening its bite.
- Use tweezers to grab the tick right at its head — not on its body — and steadily pull, without twisting. Do not try to burn the tick off (you’re likely to burn your pet or yourself) or to smother it with petroleum jelly (this does not work).
- To kill the tick once it’s removed, douse it in rubbing alcohol. Do not flush a live tick down the toilet; doing so may not kill it. And do not squash it with your fingers, because its insides can transmit disease.
- Once you’ve removed the parasite, clean your dog’s tick bite with alcohol and apply an antibiotic ointment. You might see a little swelling around the bite later on. This is because ticks have toxic saliva (as if they needed any more unpleasant features), but the swelling should go down fairly soon.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water.
Keep an eye on the area where the bite occurred and be on the lookout for any redness or rashes. If you’re concerned about tick-borne diseases, take your pet to the vet for a consultation.
How Do I Keep My Dog Tick-Free?
There are many ways to prevent ticks from finding their way to your dog’s skin. Protect your furry best friend from these pesky pests with these easy tick prevention tips:
- Remove anything from your home or yard that ticks might hide in, including old boxes, old newspapers and stored firewood.
- Keep the grass on your property cut short. (Ticks like tall grass.)
- Limit your pup’s access — and your own — to potential tick hangouts, including wooded areas, woodpiles, stone fences and underbrush.
- Check yourself and your dog for ticks when you come inside.
- Use a monthly topical treatment oral treatments and flea/tick collars that will kill and preven. Do not use dog flea-and-tick products on cats or vice versa. Not all products eliminate every species of tick – only some.
- Consider having your dog vaccinated against Lyme Disease and asking your vet about testing for tick-borne disease.
When it comes to ticks, having the right tick prevention tools makes it easier to keep your dog protected. The bottom line? If you take these simple steps, your dog is much less likely to contract a tick-borne disease.
Information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure your pet and is not a substitute for veterinary care provided by a licensed veterinarian. For any medical or health-related advice concerning the care and treatment of your pet, contact your veterinarian.