What Should I Do About My Dog’s Ticks?

When they bite your dog, some tick species can spread potentially fatal diseases, and this time of year is when some of them are most active and searching for hosts to feast on. This summer, it is crucial to regularly examine your dog for any unwelcome parasitic hitchhikers and remove them before they can attach and avoid the spread of disease.

After your dog has spent time outside in an area where ticks are likely to be present, it is extremely vital to do a thorough inspection of your dog. Even if your dog is given a spot-on treatment or wears a tick prevention collar, you still need to complete this inspection, and continue throughout the summer.


Performing a Complete Body Check

What is the best way to inspect your dog for ticks? It is easier to check certain pets than others. When compared to shorter hair coats, longer hair coats tend to provide ticks a better chance to conceal themselves deep inside the fur, where they can remain undetected for an extended period.

Despite this, larger parasites, like fleas, are harder to see on a dog’s body than ticks. Unless your dog has exceptionally long or full fur, they are typically dark and easy to notice. Once they locate a spot on the body and burrow their heads into the skin to eat, ticks do not move around much. As their bodies fill with blood, they grow larger the longer they feed.

Start at the head and work your way down the dog’s body, checking under the collar, completely examining the entire body, being sure to check under the tail and around the anus. Check between the toes, inside the groin, and inside the front legs since ticks are drawn to the dark, concealed locations on the body (armpits).

Something the size of a little pea is what you are feeling for. You might also want to inspect the dog’s fur with a brush or flea comb, pausing if you come across a bump or snag. Never pull or force the comb over a bump; instead, pause and identify it before continuing (pulling a tick’s body out whole can cause damage). Additionally, you should look for any red or inflamed patches of skin and keep an eye out for your dog showing indications of frequent licking or scratching in any regions. This can indicate that a tick has made an attachment to the skin here.

Since they are concealed, dark, and damp, the ears are another region that ticks find to be extremely alluring. Throughout each inspection, examine the ears carefully from the inside out. If your dog’s head is constantly shaking and there is nothing visible in the outer ear canal, your veterinarian can use a specialized tool to examine the inner ear canal more thoroughly (otoscope).


Tick Removal and Disposal

Carefully remove any embedded ticks to ensure that the entire tick is removed. When handling ticks, you might want to use a paper towel or a pair of disposable gloves. Grab the tick by the head as closely to the skin as you can using tweezers or a special tick removal instrument. Without squeezing the body, slowly and firmly pull the tick straight out.

Avoid twisting the tweezers when removing the tick, attempting to burn the tick with matches, and applying anything to the animal’s skin to persuade the tick to “back out.”
Place the tick in a little amount of rubbing alcohol once you have removed it to kill it. Do not use your fingers to remove the tick. There will be a little wound where the tick was attached. Once the tick has been removed, you have the option of cleaning your dog’s skin with a disinfectant or using a dab of triple antibiotic ointment.


Tick Prevention

Consult with your veterinarian about providing the appropriate flea and tick prevention for your pet. Again, depending on your dog’s outside activity level and exposure to these parasites, you will still need to regularly examine your dog for any of these unwelcome parasites and remove them appropriately if they are present.



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