How to remove ticks from your dog

Tips on how to safely remove ticks from your dog

Ticks are not only annoying blood sucking bugs but they are also vectors of a variety of diseases. For this very reason, if you live in the country or take your dog on a hike, you want to inspect your dog carefully to rule out ticks.

Ticks may not be easily detected when they are small as poppy seeds but once they are engorged with blood they may resemble the size of a corn kernel. Ticks are commonly found in wooded areas, but they have been found as well near lakes, ponds, in parks and even city backyards. Being hardy, they may be found in just about every State and climate.

They usually linger around grasses patiently awaiting their next meal. Then, they will attach and eat until they can. They usually settle in areas out of the dog's reach. When inspecting a dog for ticks, make sure you look well inside ears, between toes, underbelly and armpit areas. 

Should you find a tick, you must be very careful how you remove them, there are particular guidelines you must follow to avoid the tick's head to remain embedded and further contamination.

Of utmost importance is removing the tick as soon as possible, it usually takes between 24-48 hours for Lyme disease to be transmitted. So you want to always inspect your dog carefully and act swiftly.

You also need to protect yourself from dangerous secretions so wearing gloves is a must.  In order to effectively remove a tick you will need the following items:

Rubber gloves

Tweezers

Jar with alcohol

Neosporin

Dog's favorite treats

You may have heard of using a match, a cigarette,lighter fluid or alcohol. You want to stay away from these methods, not only have they caused severe burns and skin irritations, but they also cause the tick to struggle and regurgitate more infectious fluids causing more irritation.

Simply wear the gloves and arm yourself with the tweezers. Bring your pet in a well lit area where you see properly. With the tweezer grasp the tick as close to the skin as you can and pull firmly straight up. Do not twist. Simply pull straight up until the tick removes its grasp. You should therefore, have removed the whole tick at this point. Place in a jar with rubbing alcohol in it. Do not flush the tick down the toilet, it will survive the trip and look for another meal soon.

Don't forget to praise your dog and give him a reward. Last, apply Neosporin on the area. Neosporin is safe should your dog lick it off (but try to avoid it).

Label the container with the date and save in a garage or shed. Should your dog become sick one day, you have a specimen that may help with the diagnosis. Usually, a dog starts showing signs of Lyme disease within 2-5 months.

Should the tick come off and the head still be embedded, treat the area just like if the dog has a splinter. Try to remove it carefully with the tweezers. If you are still having difficulty, avoid stressing the skin too much. You may ultimately be causing more damage than the tick's head may be. At this point you may decide to have your vet attempt to remove or watch the area for a few days for signs of infection.  The tick's head will be naturally expelled by the dog's skin days later.

It is normal for a welt to form days after the tick has been removed. It may take up to 2 weeks for the welt to disappear. 

Ticks are nasty disease carriers. For this reason, using special products that repels them can be a life saver. If you use Advantix, please be aware that such product can be toxic for cats. Also, try to stay away from cheap over the counter products that have been known to cause toxicity in some cases.

A good flea and tick prevention program is a must. It will safeguard yourself and your  beloved dog from these annoying bugs and provide priceless peace of mind.

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