Tick Be Gone. Getting Rid of Ticks from Your Dog Safely and Effectively

What To Do If You Find A Tick On Your Dog

If you discover a tick on your dog, it’s important to remove it as soon as possible to prevent the transmission of disease. The safest and most effective way to remove a tick is with a pair of fine-tipped tweezers. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull it straight out with steady, even pressure.

Avoid folk remedies like covering the tick with Vaseline or touching it with a hot match. These may irritate the tick and cause it to release more toxins into your dog’s skin. You also want to avoid squeezing or crushing the tick’s body. Squeezing it can accidentally release infectious fluids into your dog’s bloodstream.

There are also tick removal tools like the Tick Twister or TickEase tweezers that may be easier to use than regular tweezers. The important thing is to grasp the tick close to the skin and remove it cleanly and completely. Leaving any part of the tick behind can lead to infection.

Once the tick is removed, place it in alcohol to kill it and wash the bite area thoroughly with soap and water. Apply an antiseptic to help prevent infection. Monitor the site closely over the next few weeks for any signs of rash or infection.

It’s always a good idea to contact your vet anytime you find a tick on your dog. They can recommend next steps based on the type of tick it was and the prevalence of tick-borne disease in your area.

Identify The Type Of Tick

It’s important to identify what type of tick has latched onto your dog. Different tick species carry different diseases that can infect your pet. The two most common tick species found on dogs in the United States are:

check dog's skin for ticks after being outdoors

If you live in an area known for Lyme disease or other tick-borne illnesses, have your vet test the tick or your dog’s blood to determine if disease transmission occurred. The sooner these infections are caught, the better the treatment options.

Kill The Tick

Once the tick has been completely removed from the skin, it is important to make sure it is dead before disposal. A live tick can continue to pose a risk of disease transmission and infestation if not properly killed.

The CDC recommends dropping the live tick into alcohol or flushing it down the toilet. Dropping the tick into rubbing alcohol or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer will kill it quickly. Ticks require moisture to survive, so soaking it in alcohol dissolves its outer layer leading to dehydration and death.

Some other methods like crushing or burning the tick are not recommended, as they may cause the tick to eject infectious fluids or particles. The goal is to kill the tick without rupturing it. Simply placing it in alcohol is the safest and most effective option.

Once the tick is dead, it can be disposed of in the trash or flushed. But it’s important to make sure no parts of the tick remain on the skin, and to clean and disinfect the bite area thoroughly.

Disinfect The Bite Area

It’s important to properly disinfect the tick bite area to help prevent infection. Use antiseptic wipes or a mild soap and warm water to gently clean the area where the tick was attached. Be sure to clean the surrounding fur as well. According to veterinarians, hydrogen peroxide can also be applied to the bite area after cleaning to further disinfect the wound.

Gently pat dry the area afterwards. You may want to apply a topical antibiotic ointment recommended by your vet to the site to promote healing. It’s advised to inspect and clean the bite area 2-3 times per day until fully healed. Monitor for any signs of infection like redness, swelling, oozing, or pain which would indicate a veterinary visit is needed.

Watch For Signs Of Infection

It’s important to monitor your dog closely after a tick bite to watch for signs of infection. Some common symptoms to look out for include:

Redness, swelling, and pus at the bite site. These can be signs of a localized skin infection. According to Westport Veterinary, redness and swelling at the tick bite site may emerge in the first 1-3 days after the tick is removed.

Fevers, lethargy, or lack of appetite in your dog. Fever can sometimes accompany diseases transmitted by tick bites, like Lyme disease. As noted by Prairie View Animal Hospital, lethargy is one of the most common symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs.

If you notice any of these signs of infection, it’s a good idea to call your veterinarian. They can examine your dog and potentially prescribe antibiotics or other medications to treat the infection.

Protect Against Future Ticks

There are several ways to help protect your dog against future tick infestations:

Tick repellent products like collars and sprays can be very effective. Seresto collars release small amounts of repellent and can help repel and kill ticks for up to 8 months (1). There are also sprays and shampoos that contain repellents like permethrin or pyrethrin that can be applied regularly (2). Just be sure to carefully follow label instructions.

use tick repellent products like collars and sprays

It’s also important to try to keep your yard and kennel areas clear of ticks. Ticks thrive in areas with tall grasses and brush. Keeping your lawn mowed and removing leaf litter and brush piles can help reduce the tick population. There are also yard sprays containing permethrin that can be applied to create a tick-free zone for your dog (3).

Checking your dog regularly for ticks and promptly removing any you find can further reduce the chances of a tick transmitting disease. Talk to your vet about the best prevention options for your pet.

(1) https://nymag.com/strategist/article/best-tick-treatment-for-dogs.html

(2) https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/avoid/on_pets.html

(3) https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/riney-canine-health-center/health-info/flea-and-tick-prevention

Perform Tick Checks

It’s important to check your dog’s skin regularly for ticks, especially after spending time outdoors. Ticks often hide in hard to see places, so you’ll need to thoroughly look through your dog’s fur. According to the AKC, some of the most common places ticks can be found on dogs include:

  • Head and ears
  • Toes
  • Tail
  • Groin
  • Eyelids
  • Under the collar
  • Under the arms

PetMD recommends starting by using your hands to gently feel across your dog’s skin for any bumps or raised areas that could be a tick. Part the fur to visually inspect the skin in places ticks may hide. It’s best to check your dog daily for ticks after being outdoors, especially if in wooded or high grass areas.

thoroughly check places on dog's body where ticks may hide

According to the AKC, “Ticks like places that are warm and moist. And they’re small enough to slide into places you may not think to check.” Be diligent about checking all over your dog’s body.

Some tips for effective tick checks include:
– Go slowly and run your hands over every part of your dog’s body

– Check between toes, folds of skin, and armpits thoroughly
– Inspect the head closely, including the ears and eyelids
– Look under the tail and around the groin area
– Carefully check the neck and under any collars or harnesses

– Spread the fur apart to see the skin
– Have proper lighting to spot tiny ticks

When To See The Vet

If the tick has been attached for over 24 hours, it’s important to see your vet, according to The Pioneer Woman (https://www.thepioneerwoman.com/home-lifestyle/pets/a36570796/tick-bite-on-dog/). Ticks can transmit diseases like Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever to dogs within 24-48 hours of attaching.

You should also see the vet if you notice any signs of illness after a tick bite, like lethargy, loss of appetite, lameness, swelling, or fever (https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/what-do-if-you-find-tick-your-dog). These could indicate your dog has contracted a tick-borne disease.

It’s also a good idea to seek vet assistance for tick removal if the tick’s head breaks off and remains in your dog’s skin, as this can cause infection. Vets have tools to fully remove the embedded tick head (https://loyal-companions.com/i-found-a-tick-what-should-i-do/).

Monitor Dog’s Health

After finding and removing a tick from your dog, it’s important to monitor their health for any signs of illness. Ticks can transmit several diseases, like Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Monitoring your dog’s health and behavior is crucial for early detection and treatment of any tick-borne disease.

Look for any changes in your dog’s normal behavior, appetite, and energy levels. Lethargy, decreased appetite, and vomiting can indicate illness. Also check their gums and ears for paleness or redness. Take your dog’s temperature twice a day, normal is 100-102.5F. Contact your vet if it’s over 103F or below 99F.

Your vet may recommend bloodwork to check for tick-borne diseases, even if your dog shows no symptoms. The most common tests check for heartworm disease, Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, and Anaplasmosis. Early detection allows antibiotic treatment to be started quickly, preventing more severe complications.[1]

vet may recommend bloodwork to check for tick-borne diseases

Continue monitoring your dog’s health for several months after a tick bite, since some diseases can take weeks to show symptoms. Alert your vet to any unusual symptoms or behavior changes during this time. With close monitoring, prompt treatment can help your dog recover quickly.

FAQs About Removing Ticks from Dogs

Ticks may be tiny, but they can transmit serious diseases to pets and people. It’s important to know the facts about safely removing ticks from dogs.

How can such small ticks cause big problems?

Ticks are efficient disease vectors. According to the CDC, ticks transmit bacteria, viruses, and parasites through their saliva when feeding on hosts. Some of the most concerning tick-borne diseases include Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Even tiny nymph ticks can transmit disease [1].

What are some truths vs myths about pet ticks?

Myth: You can remove a tick by smothering it or using heat. Truth: Smothering or burning a tick won’t necessarily kill it quickly, and may cause the tick to release more disease-carrying saliva into the host. Use fine-tipped tweezers to swiftly remove the tick instead [2].

Myth: You should twist or jerk a tick when removing it. Truth: Twisting or crushing a tick often leaves the head and mouthparts embedded in the skin. Gently pull straight up with steady pressure instead [3].

Why can’t you just yank a tick off?

Yanking off a tick may rupture it or break off its mouthparts. This raises the risk of infection and makes removal more difficult. Apply slow, steady pressure without twisting until the tick releases its grip. Proper technique minimizes disease risk and ensures the entire tick is removed intact [1].

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