by Cate Burnette RVT
If your dog spends any time outside, whether it’s playing in wooded areas around your house, out in the tall brush or grass of surrounding fields, or even around the closest woodpile, checking him for ticks needs to be on your list of things to do when he comes inside.
The tick, one of the nastiest-looking parasites out there, sucks your dog’s blood for nourishment and, when full, can look like an extra-large, puffy, brown or gray skin tag. Known to attach themselves to any part of the body, including inside the ears, between the toe pads, in the armpits, and inside the folds of the genitalia, ticks are responsible for such deadly diseases as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, and babesiosis. Not only can these diseases prove fatal to your pet, they are transferable to humans if a tick also bites you.
So how do you safely get rid of the revolting creature if you happen to find a tick on your dog? Here are 5 easy steps to walk you through the process.
1. Put on a pair of surgical gloves (you can find these at your local pharmacy) and grab hold of a pair of fine-tipped tweezers or a commercial tick remover.
2. With the heads of your tweezers, grasp the tick as close to your dog’s skin as possible, making sure not to accidentally pinch the skin. If you’re using a tick remover, press the remover against the skin near the tick and slide the notch under the tick’s belly and head.
3. Use the tweezers to pull the tick out of your dog’s skin in a steady, straight motion, making sure that you remove the entire tick, since any part left behind can cause infection. With a tick remover, continue sliding the remover until the head of the tick is caught in the small end of the notch and the entire pest is pulled free.
4. Drop the tick into a small pill bottle or similar container with several milliliters of isopropyl alcohol and mark the date on the container. The alcohol kills the tick and preserves it, just in case your pooch later begins to show symptoms of a tick-borne illness and your vet needs to identify or test the tick.
5. Clean the tick bite area with a disinfectant and apply a small amount of triple antibiotic ointment.
Of course, the easiest and most effective way to deal with ticks on your pup is to regularly use a flea-and-tick preventive. Veterinarian-recommended products, such as Frontline® or Advantix®, have been shown to effectively and safely protect pets from external parasites. For added protection, you can try an all-natural, 3-in-1 spray containing no pesticides or chemical poisons that works as an adjunct to your regular preventive. Gentle on a dog’s sensitive skin, a quick spritz of this blend of natural ingredients ensures that your pooch is fully armed against unwanted pests when he’s outdoors having fun.