How to remove ticks from your dog
Ticks are still in season. And while they might not be as annoying and as hard to get rid off as fleas, they are literally just as blood sucking. Ticks diet consist out of your pet's blood only, but what makes them dangerous is the fact they can be carriers of a number of diseases (Lyme disease, Canine Ehrlichiosis, Canine Anaplasmosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever). That is number one reason why you should check your dog daily, especially when ticks are in season or in case your dog spends a lot of time outdoors. Unlike fleas, ticks are not insects but arachnids like spiders. There are 2 tick families - ixodid (hard-shelled ticks) and Argasid ticks (soft-shelled ticks) which are also relatively rare.
Like fleas, ticks have no wings however they do crawl through the grass and with Haller's organ (a special sensory apparatus) sense humidity, odor and heat. They will crawl into the tall grass and once they locate a suitable host they crawl on it, be a pet or a human. Then they proceed to bury their head under the skin and suck the blood. Ticks, like fleas go through 4 life stages and during that time change 3 hosts. Keep in mind however this information is for a deer tick. Other types of ticks may be active at different times of the year, so consult your vet about possible dangers and exact times of tick season. Adult female ticks will lay their eggs on the ground in the springtime, which later in the year (usually during the summer months) will turn into larvae. Larvae will find a host (first animal), suck some blood for a few days and fall off back to the ground. From larvae they turn into nymphs. And even though the name may suggest something lovely and charming, ticks are anything but. Nymph will stay dormant during the winter months and come alive back in springtime when they find a second host and they feed again. When well fed they will fall off back to the ground and change into an adult tick. It is time to find a 3rd host and mate, which usually happens during fall. The males will die off, while the female ticks will survive to lay eggs and it comes the full circle. Even if ticks are unable to find a 3rd host, they will lay dormant on the ground and come alive in spring.
It is important to check your pet daily. Run your hands through your dog's fur and be thorough. If you feel any abnormal lumps, look more closely. Sometimes ticks legs will be visible and it should look like a small, dark zit. However, I have once found a tick that was almost white from all the blood it has sucked.
Now to the important stuff - how to remove a tick in case it has attached itself to your pet.
1. Once you have located the tick, take a special tick removal instrument or a pair of common, but sharp tweezers and grab the tick by its mouthparts or very closely by the head. Important - do not grab the tick by its body! That will squash the body but leave the head underneath your pet's skin, which can also lead to disease and infections.
2. Pull the tick firmly and steadily out, without twisting, jerking or squeezing the tick. Make sure not to break body from the head of the tick.
3. To destroy the tick, place it in a jar of alcohol to kill it. Some people flush them down the toilet; I guess that can work if it is more convenient for you. My granddad used to put it in a Kleenex and step on it to make sure its dead however I'm not sure that's the best way to go about it.
4. At the place of the bite, clean the wound with some disinfectant and also you can apply an antibiotic cream.
5. Wash your hands thoroughly.
6. In case you are worried the head is still embedded under your pet's skin go to the vet immediately.
While there are a great number of products available on the market for flea and tick control and some are very effective, in my experience the best combination is one of the topical products with a daily manual inspection to remove ticks before they have even latched onto your pet.
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