Chances are, at some point, your beloved pooch is going to get a tick. Even if your dogs not a lover of the Great Outdoors and spends most of their time sunning on the patio, tick checks should be part of your daily routine (for you and your pooch!).
While natural repellents and high-quality, monthly topical tick and flea control products help greatly in keeping these annoying little vexations away, sometimes one makes it through. To check your pet thoroughly, run your hand down her entire body, checking for bumps or swollen areas. Be sure to check all of their cracks and crevices: armpits, ears, face, behind, and yes, the undercarriage.
So, you found a tick on your sweet, beloved pup…don’t panic!
Step 1: Prepare
How something as tiny as a tick can be so difficult to kill remains a mystery, but flushing it down the toilet or squeezing it and throwing it in the trash won’t kill the little pest. The best way to kill a tick is to put it in a screw-top jar with rubbing alcohol. After making sure it’s not a deer tick (if it is, get to the vet asap) keeping the jar around for a few days is also a good idea, just in case your pup shows any symptoms of being ill and you need to take them to the vet.
Step 2: Remove the tick
While you can find actual “Tick Remover” gadgets at some pet stores in Saratoga, tweezers should be efficient enough. If possible, grab a partner in case your pet decides to squirm. Treat the area with rubbing alcohol. Using a pair of tweezers, gently grasp the tick as close to your dog’s skin as possible. Slowly pull the tick away from the body. Pulling too fast will separate the tick’s mouth from its body and the mouth will remain embedded in your dog. Twisting or squeezing the tick while it is still on your dog will also leave infective juices behind on your pet that can cause your dog to become sick. Even if you do everything right and gently pull the tick off, there is still a chance the mouth will be left behind. Depending on the depth, it may not be a good idea to go fishing for it as this could cause a wound on your dog. Instead, if the mouth is too deep to grasp with tweezers, disinfect the area and hold a warm compress to it. The skin should expel it on its own later. Unless the area seems inflamed or infected, a vet’s visit is not necessary.
Step 3: Be sure to Wash Up!
Be sure to wash your hands well, even though you probably didn’t have any contact with the tick. We’ve all heard of the dangers of Lyme disease, but ticks carry a plethora of other pathogens as well that cause many diseases and viruses. Be sure to sterilize your tweezers as well.
Step 4: Give ‘Em a Treat!
We probably don’t have to tell you that you should give your good girl or good boy a treat for their bravery.
Step 5: Keep a Watch over the Site
For the next few days, be sure to keep a watchful eye on the bite site. If the area is red, inflamed, or painful to the touch, bring your doggie and the jarred tick to the vet. If you don’t have a vet yet, be sure to check out our Saratoga Veterinarians Directory. Other symptoms of tick-borne illnesses include swollen joints, fever, fatigue, swollen nodes and a loss of appetite. If you see any of these symptoms in your dog, seek veterinary care immediately.
Prevention is definitely the best way prevent ticks, but sometimes they appear even when you do all of the right things. Be sure to keep your grass short and use a veterinary-prescribed or recommended tick product.
As much as you love your dog, don’t neglect your people. Ticks move from host to host, so you should be doing tick checks regularly during the warm months on all members of your family, two-legged and four!