Ticks are tiny parasites that when they bite a dog, can transmit diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and many other potentially fatal diseases to the animal. Ticks are found in high concentrations in deciduous forests, grasslands and overgrown pastures, just the places where you would go for a walk with your K9 friend. These parasites require host animals to complete their life cycle and utilize wildlife such as white-tail deer and wild turkeys for this purpose. Wild turkeys were reintroduced around the Guelph area a few years ago and their population has grown dramatically since then. It is not uncommon to see them feeding in the fields and at the edges of the forests in the area. In addition, the restoration of wetlands and the decreased use of pesticides outdoors has contributed to an increase in the tick population. All of the above, in addition to a warming climate have seen tick populations moving farther north (out of the United States and into southern Canada) and closer to urban areas.
Safe tick removal from your dog is not difficult and it is best to check your pet, especially in the spring and fall when ticks are very active, if you and your pet spend time outdoors in wooded areas or tall grass that may be tick-infested.
* Use latex exam gloves when you examine your dog for ticks and do this in an area with good lighting.
* Check your pet for ticks by thoroughly feeling for any lumps under the hair and pay close attention to the area around the ears, face, eyes, legs and belly.
* Ticks can range in size from the size of a sesame seed to the size of a fingernail (when it has had a blood meal).
* When a tick is embedded in the skin, use fine-point tweezers at the point of attachment, grasping it firmly as close as possible to the skin. Wear latex gloves when doing this.
* Using slow, steady and firm traction, pull the tick straight out from the skin.
* Cleanse the skin with mild soap and water.
* NOTE: DON’T THROW THE TICK AWAY! Place the tick in a jar of alcohol, and on the jar note the date when the tick was removed and possibly location of where the tick may have been picked up. This is very important in case in the future, your dog becomes ill as it helps in illness/tick identification and the possible location of tick infestation.
* Do not use a match or caustic materials to try to smother the tick or get it to “back out”. This may cause the tick to regurgitate more saliva into the dogs skin and result in making the dog sicker.
If you are unsure of your ability to remove the tick from your pet, or had problems when you were removing the tick, bring your pet to your veterinarian as soon as possibly for removal and/or treatment.