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What To Do When You Find A Tick On Your Dog

 Chris Cole 

Don't let ticks take a bite out of your holiday adventures with your dog. Though they're found almost everywhere - in forest, fields and hiking trails - you can keep your dog safe with these home treatment and prevention tips.

How To Identify A Tick

a dog ticks

Ticks before and after a blood feeding.Ticks are large enough for you to see, even before they swell up with blood. At its smallest, a tick is black and looks like a tiny spider. After it latches onto your dog and fills with blood, it may be yellowish, brownish or greyish.When you go for a walk in a wooded area, field, or area near other animals, particularly deer or sheep, you should check your dog for ticks before you go home. They tend to land on a dog's head, tail, base of the tail, neck and paws. You can use a flea comb to part long fur to check for ticks crawling around within the dog's coat.

When To See Your Vet

Every time you see a tick on your dog, or suspect they have been bitten by one, you should visit your veterinarian. Even if you are able to completely remove the tick, it may have already transferred bacteria, viruses or parasites like Lyme disease and babesiosis. If you can, bring the tick's body to your veterinarian so they can test it for diseases if your dog does get sick.Some symptoms of tick-borne illnesses include, but are not limited to:
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lameness or paralysis
  • Fever
If your dog shows any of these symptoms, you should take them to your vet right away, even if you have not seen a tick on their body. A tick can bite your pet, get their fill of blood, and drop off before you notice it.If you live in a high-risk area, your veterinarian may recommend yearly Lyme disease screenings.

How To Remove A Tick

[caption id="attachment_2335" align="alignnone" width="500"]picking dog's tick

Use a tick tweezer to remove the entire tick, including the head and mouthparts.Never burn a tick, squeeze it, drown it or dab it. Many common removal methods cause the tick to vomit up the blood they have sucked from the dog back into the dog's skin, which can increase their chances of transferring bacteria.It's best to use specialty tick tweezers to carefully remove the entire tick. Leaving in the head or mouthparts can lead to infection. Once the tick is removed, use a dog-safe antiseptic to clean the bite site. If you don't have antiseptic or if you're not sure if what you have is safe for your dog, call your veterinarian for advice.Once it is removed, kill the tick with rubbing alcohol and save it in a jar in case your veterinarian needs to test or identify it.

Keep Ticks Off Your Dog This Season

From spring to fall, your dog could pick up ticks on walks, hikes, or even your backyard if your property is frequented by wild animals.You may decide to use a spot-on preventative or one that your dog can take orally. These are generally safe, but if you are worried about side effects, natural flea and tick products are also effective, though they need to be applied more frequently and may only repel, not kill, pests.You can even use a combination of chemical and natural pesticides and repellents. Natural products like flea powder are so mild, they can be reapplied right before you take your dog for a hike. Keep an extra set of tick removal tools, repellants and sprays in your car or travel bag so you'll always be prepared.
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