Ticks are not particularly nice things, and they can pass disease onto your dog. Unfortunately, sooner or later your dog will pick up a tick or two. My dog has attracted a few, mostly around his face. This is usually when he’s been running around in long grass or woodland.
A tick is best dealt with straight away. Most tick-borne diseases take between 24 and 36 hours to get passed to your dog, so speed is essential. For this reason I recommend having something in your dog’s cupboard to deal with a tick bite. So check your dog regularly, and if you find a tick remove it promptly.
Signs your dog has a tick.
If your dog is scratching or repeatedly biting at themself in one particular place, this could be a sign they have a tick. If your dog is long-haired, use a hair dryer on a very cool setting to check for parasites. As you move the dryer over your dog, the hairs will part and you’ll be able to see the skin and any ticks that might be lurking there.
Things NOT to do.
Don’t try to remove them with your fingers, the last thing you want is tick saliva or blood on your fingers as it can contain some nasty pathogens.
Never squash or crush a tick, this can force infected body fluids through the tick’s mouth and into your dog.
Some people suggest using nail polish or vaseline to try to suffocate or kill it while it is on your dog. Potentially this process can cause the parasite to vomit into your dog, which is not good. (I was actually told to use vaseline by my local pet shop – fortunately I ignored the advice.) To repeat, this won’t work — and has the potential to further hurt your pet.
Removing ticks from your dog
I think the best tool for the job is a plastic removal stick like the O’Tom Tick Twister (available from Monster Pet Supplies). This is suitable for any sized tick. Removal sticks are specially designed to safely and quickly remove ticks. Personally, I think these are better than using tweezers, as you may inadvertently squeeze the parasite when using tweezers.
You will need: some gloves, your removal tool, antiseptic wipes, rubbing alcohol and a jar or container with a lid.
Remove the Tick
WEAR GLOVES – Ticks carry infectious agents that can seep into your bloodstream through breaks in the skin.
KEEP YOUR DOG CALM – When you’re getting ready to remove the tick you’ve got to keep your dog calm. Any unusual poking or prodding tends to make dogs nervous.
POSITION THE TICK REMOVAL TOOL – Part your dog’s hair around the tick with your fingers, place the removal stick around the tick, as close as you can possibly get to the skin. Don’t jerk or twist the tick. Just pull gently upwards with a steady motion, adding pressure until the tick lets you pull it away from the skin. Pull it out using a straight motion, because you want to avoid leaving any mouthparts behind. After removing the tick, examine it to make sure the head and mouth parts were removed. If not, take your pet to a vet to remove what’s left in your dog’s skin.
Kill the Tick
KILL THE TICK – Put the tick in a sealed container with some alcohol. Keep the dead tick in the container in case your pet begins displaying any signs of disease. The vet might find the tick useful.
DISINFECT THE BITE SITE – Disinfect the bite site using antiseptic spray or wipes. Keep an eye on it for signs of infection. If the site remains red or becomes inflamed, make an appointment with your vet.
REWARD YOUR DOG – After the tick has been removed from your dog, praise them for being good and give them a treat.
KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR DOG – Make sure to keep a close eye on your dog over the next few weeks and be on the lookout for any unusual symptoms including a reluctance to move, fatigue, fever or a loss of appetite. If your dog displays any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your vet straight away.