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Have you gone hiking or camping with your dog lately, only to feel the ominous bump of a tick during a post-trip rub down?
Unfortunately, it’s all too easy for nasty parasites like ticks to end up hidden somewhere on your dog’s body after a romp through fields, woods, and other outdoor areas.
You’re probably aware of the dangers ticks bring to your dog (and you), so removing them safely is vital. Think twice before you try to grab and pull, though. Ticks aren’t quite that easy to safely extract, and can end up causing more harm by being pulled out improperly.
If you’ve found one tick on your dog, there’s a chance more are lurking. And even if you haven’t seen one on your pup, if you’ve come across any of these parasites on yourself or in your home, you need to do a thorough check.
Ticks cling to mammals by sinking their heads into the skin and drawing blood. They can remain embedded for days to weeks, transmitting all sorts of diseases in the process.
Ticks tend to burrow into warm, damp places, like your dog’s armpits, groin area, or ear canals, making them tough to spot. You should always do a check with your hands after a hike. Feeling a bump or scabs on your pup’s skin should warrant further investigation.
Apart from actually feeling a tick, you also might notice your dog shaking their head a lot, which could be an indication of an unwelcomed critter calling your dog’s ear home. More serious signs could be fever, excessive panting, or loss in appetite.
How to Remove Ticks
The first few hours after a tick bite are the most critical in making sure your dog doesn’t catch any diseases, like Lyme, Ehrlichiosis, or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
However, if you remove a tick by freely grabbing and pulling, there’s a chance the body might break off, while the head stays buried in your dog’s skin (making it much more difficult to remove).
Follow these steps to safely remove ticks:
1. Sterilize tweezers or a tick removal tool like the Tick Twister, which acts as a hook to remove ticks.
2. Grab the tick by the head and mouth, making sure not to press the tick into your dog further or squeeze too hard.
3. Pull straight out and away from your dog, making sure not to turn the tweezers or tool (and thus, risk dislocating the head and body).
4. Put the tick in a jar of alcohol to kill it, clean yourself and your dog, and finish up with antibacterial ointment.
Of course, not all dogs will enjoy being poked and prodded at. If yours is extra squirmy, try using small treats to distract them during the process.
If you want to be extra cautious, save the tick in a plastic bag to show your vet. They can help identify the tick to know whether or not your dog is at risk for certain diseases.
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Signs of Ticks
If you find and remove a tick, keep an eye on your dog afterwards. Watch for symptoms of tick related diseases, like:
Loss of appetite
Swollen lymph nodes
If you notice any of these signs, head straight to the vet. While many ticks carry no diseases whatsoever, some that do can be devastating to your dog. Be watchful of them and take action at the first sign of infection.
What Not to Do
As with any health related topic, there are myths and old wive’s tales floating around about the proper way to remove ticks. Unfortunately, they’re just that - tales, myths, and mistakes. Following them can put your dog even more at risk.
Pull a tick out with your fingers, which can cause it to release more harmful saliva into your dog
Use Vaseline or nail polish remover to suffocate the tick before removal, as this can cause them to vomit into your dog’s skin
Try burning the tick before removal, which can also cause them to vomit
Freeze the tick with ice before removal
The absolute safest and easiest way to get the job done is by simply using tweezers or a specific tick removal tool. Any other methods risk your dog’s health and are unnecessary.
How to Prevent Ticks
Ticks are prevalent in warm weather, meaning tick checks after those spring and summer hikes with your pup are an absolute must. Instead of just doing damage control afterwards, though, there are some helpful preventative steps you can take, too.
Mow your lawn regularly and keep it clean - no piles of leaves or other plant debris should be lying around. The more there is, the higher your dog’s tick risk.
Better yet, have a professional treat your yard to add an ever stronger preventative measure.
Use a tick treatment on your dog once per month. Be sure to ask your vet for their recommendation on the best kind.
By following a few preventative steps and being mindful after outdoor fun, you and your dog can continue to reap the benefits of spending time together doing what you love.
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You’ll never need to be concerned with low quality imported products, or overly processed dog bones, jerky, or other treats. Shop now and treat your dog to something special.
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