Many people only worry about their dog getting a tick when in a wooded area, but most ticks actually live on tall grasses, just waiting to latch on to your pet. There might even be ticks in the bushes and ornamental grasses in your own yard. Another common misconception is that ticks are only present during the warm months, but they actually live all year round.
Ticks are arachnids like spiders or scorpions. They have a mouth that allows them to attach to the host and they are difficult to shake off or remove. They feed on the skin and blood of a host. Without a host they will eventually starve and die.
The most difficult challenge that ticks provide is finding them on your four-legged friends. Once attached under the fur they are extremely difficult to see. We recommend that you do a check on your dog every day. This is as simple as petting your dog all over, but there are a few places you want to pay extra special attention. Ticks usually latch on around the dog’s collar, ears and down their shoulders and back.
If you find a tick on your dog, don’t panic! If you remove the tick quickly the odds of your dog getting sick are very low. How do you actually remove the tick? First, grab a pair of fine-nosed tweezers and make sure you are able to keep your pet still. Then simply grab the tick close to the dogs skin and gently pull straight away from the dog. Be careful not to squeeze the tick as this can force infectious fluids into your dog.
Don’t try any fancy tricks such as burning the tick off, freezing the tick off, killing it with rubbing alcohol, or twisting the tick in a circular motion. These methods are not generally recommended by veterinarians.
Once the tick is removed, there are two more important steps. First, gently wash the area where the tick bit your dog with soap and water. Second, save the tick just in case your dog gets sick. You can then submit the tick for testing if needed. Make sure not to handle to tick with your bare hands because it can transmit disease through small breaks in your skin. Better safe than sorry!
Don’t let ticks stop you from enjoying the warm weather with your dogs. Just use a good flea and tick preventative such as Frontline, do frequent tick checks and simply remove the ticks as soon as you find them.