Dog ticks are parasites that feed on blood belonging to their hosts. They can spread different diseases to people and dogs. Prevention is the ideal way to stop them causing any harm but it’s just as important to spot and remove them as quickly as you can. If you live in a place that’s a “tick hot spot,” (such as a wooded area), this becomes even more critical.
To find ticks, you must slide your hands all over your dog’s body, with extra focus on his neck, ears, folds of his skin and other crevices. Wearing latex gloves is a wise move to protect yourself while doing this. Ensure you’re in a well-lit place and even consider the use of a torch for extra light.
Thoroughly examine raised areas by watching as you part his hair. Ticks can be as big as a lima bean (if full of blood) or as small as the tip of a pencil, depending on the age and species of the ticks. If you reside in a region where they’re commonly found, or if your pet enjoys playing in woody areas or places where the grass is tall, it’s recommended that you do a tick check twice a day. If you find a tick, remove it quickly.
Removal of ticks
Follow these steps to protect yourself and your beloved pet:
1. Wear protective latex gloves. Use a specially-designed tick remover or tweezers to grip the tick at the spot where it’s attached to your dog. Get as close to his skin as you can. You can buy special tools online. For example, Amazon sell the Tick Key and the Tick Twister.
2. Take great care NOT to squeeze the tick’s body because you may cause diseased materials and bacteria to get injected into the dog’s body.
3. Pull the tick out in a straight motion, slowly and don’t turn or twist it. A tiny piece of your dog’s skin may also come off but that’s common. If it bleeds, lightly apply pressure until it stops.
4. Now you have the tick, there are several options for disposal. Some people drop them down the toilet and flush. However, if you’re able to keep the tick, the vet can use it if further problems occur. Put it in a dated airtight container (a pill bottle is ideal). Some suggest adding rubbing alcohol to the bottle.
5. If there seems to be a fragment of the tick’s head still embedded, slowly pull it out with tweezers. If you can’t get it all, there’s no cause for concern as it usually falls off and complications rarely occur.
6. Once you have completed this removal process, clean the problem area with water and a mild soap or a mixture of water and iodine (the colour should look like weak tea. Keep an eye on the problem area for a few days to ensure it settles without further trouble. If it doesn’t heal, ring your vet for further advice.
There are no simple tricks to force ticks to release themselves from the host. The tick wants to finish gorging before that happens. Never use nail polish, hot matches or chemicals because they’re ineffective and may harm your dog.
Symptoms of diseases caused by ticks may take weeks or even months to manifest themselves. If your pet has any symptoms that he may be unwell, contact the vet because prevention or early treatment is ideal.
How to prevent ticks on dogs
The best way to stop your dog from suffering from problems caused by ticks is to not let them get attached to begin with. As mentioned already, regular checks are essential. However, it’s not the most accurate way to prevent ticks. You should keep your grass mowed and ensure all plants are trimmed properly. If you wish to use pesticides in your garden, only use products that are safe for pets and, where possible, are also good for the environment.
A good tool is a tick collar. Another very effective method for protecting your beloved pet is by using topical products designed for dogs in particular. They should be applied monthly. A vet can prescribe a product or you can buy some over-the-counter products. Despite being approved for dog use, they do have toxic ingredients so you need to always follow directions. Never use more than needed and don’t use more than one simultaneously. Most dog products are extremely toxic to the feline world.
Ask your vet what is best for your dog and the lifestyle he lives. How well products work depends on the dog so you may have to try a few before finding the ideal one for your pet. With enough knowledge, you’ll help conquer ticks before they can harm you, your dog or your family, either directly, or through tick-borne diseases.
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