How to Identify, Get Rid of and Prevent Ticks on Your Dog
Ticks can be an unavoidable part of the spring and summer months for many dogs and their owners. The staff at DogWatch Hidden Fences has a lot of experience with ticks, both from our customers and our own dogs. Here is how to safely identify and remove them, as well as some tips on how to avoid them in the future.
Does my dog have ticks?
Ticks, the tiny, eight-legged menace to your dog, have the potential to transmit Lyme Disease and other illnesses to both humans and animals. Here’s how to know if your dog has them. Check for ticks should be part of your daily routine especially if you live near wooded areas, marshes, thick brush or regularly hike or camp in those areas. Simply rub your hands along your dog’s body feeling for bumps and separate the fur to look for the tiny bugs. Be sure to check not only the torso, but also inside and behind your dog’s ears, face, neck, behind the legs and between their toes.
How do I remove a tick if I find one?
We hope your dog is delightfully tick-free this summer, but if he’s not, here’s what to do:
- Find a helper who can gently hold your dog while you do the extraction.
- With tweezers (not your fingers), grasp the tick as closely to your dog’s skin as possible, to ensure that you’re grasping the tick’s head as well as its body.
- Pull out the tick in a straight, steady motion. Do not yank quickly.
- If you missed any larger pieces, try to get those with the tweezers. Do not dig for smaller pieces as those should work themselves out naturally.
- Place the removed tick in a small baggie or jar with a bit of rubbing alcohol. This will kill the tick. Save the tick in case your dog shows signs of sickness later; the tick may help the vet identify the problem later.
- Clean your tweezers with rubbing alcohol
- Wash your hands even if gloves were used.
- Reward your pup with a treat for being a brave and cooperative patient.
For additional guidance, check out this helpful video:
Separating Tick Myths from Tick Facts
There are many myths associated with ticks that have floated around for years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “avoid folklore remedies such as “painting” the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly, or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin. Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible–not waiting for it to detach.”
- Flushing ticks down the toilet will not kill them and just introduces them into our water supply. Submersion in alcohol is the best way to kill a tick.
- Tweezers are always your best option for removing ticks. Using your ungloved fingers to remove ticks will increase the chance the head may remain and risks spreading disease to you. This goes for trying to crush the tick with your fingers as well.
Now that’s we’ve got the myths out of the way, here are a few key facts about ticks.
- Ticks may be as small as the head of a pin, so check pets carefully.
- Tick heads rarely stay in.
- The wound caused by the tick may last for up to a week.
- Hydrocortisone spray can help to soothe any discomfort.
- The wound may scar, making a small bald spot on your pup.
Signs of Illness
If you do find and successfully remove a tick from your dog, unfortunately you’re not quite yet out of danger. Watch your dog over the next few weeks, for possible joint soreness, rashes, lameness, fever and loss of appetite. If you notice any of these symptoms, grab that tick you retrieved and head to your vet.
Equally important as tick checks and proper removal is tick prevention. All dog owners should take steps to minimize their dog’s exposure to these harmful parasites. Here are some prevention suggestions:
- Use vet-recommended flea and tick treatments on your dog regularly, especially during tick season.
- US residents, check out this online tool to track the tick risk level in your area. Canadian residents, visit CanLyme.com for more information about risk areas.
- Keep your grass cut short, and keep weeds and brush to a minimum.
- Contact your local DogWatch Dealer about installing a hidden fence to restrict your dog’s access to tick-friendly areas of your property, including woods and marshes.
- Stay on paths (if possible) when hiking or walking in a wooded area with your dog.
- If ticks are found on a human family member, be sure to check your dog and any other people in the house.
Ticks are an unavoidable nuisance that shouldn’t keep you and your dog from enjoying the great outdoors. The DogWatch team wishes you lots of great outdoor adventures with your dog!