You can never be too careful when it comes to ticks! These pesky critters crawl, host, and hitch a ride from pets, and can go undetected for days. Avoiding grass, shrubs, or woods is the best preventive measure to escape attack.
Creating barriers around your home can also help decrease the chance for tick infestation. Make vegetation sparse between your lawn and home, or use mulch and wood chips to create foliage-free areas.
Always dress appropriately (long pants and boots) when you go into the woods or tall grass. When you return from areas where you may have been exposed, be sure to check your pet and yourself for ticks.
Remember, a tick can be as small as a pencil point, or as large as a bean, depending on its species and life stage. While examining the coat, if you find a tick that hasn’t attached yet, just brush or pick it off and dispose of it properly. Don’t panic if you do find a tick attached to your pet’s skin—it doesn’t necessarily mean disease.
Proper tick removal is very important. If it is your first time removing a tick, please visit your veterinarian to learn how to do this correctly. After the tick is removed, keep it tightly sealed in a jar so you can show it to your veterinarian. They may be able to tell you which potential disease the particular tick species transmits.
Feeding ticks insert their mouthparts into the skin. To avoid risk of infection, it is important the whole body is removed. You can have the tick removed at your veterinary clinic if you are unsure or not comfortable doing it on your own.
7 DO’S AND DON’TS DURING TICK REMOVAL
1. Don’t apply any substances (alcohol, etc) to the tick.
2. Protect your hands by wearing latex gloves.
3. Use sharp, pointed tweezers or ask your veterinarian about special tick tweezers.
4. Do not grasp or squeeze the tick’s head or body. Grasp the tick as close to its embedded mouthparts as possible (next to your pet’s skin).
5. With a slow and steady motion, pull the tick straight out. Twisting or turning the tick may disconnect the head or mouthparts, expelling more organisms into your pet.
6. If you want the tick identified to help determine the risks of disease transmission, put it in a clean jar or container so you can bring it to your veterinarian’s office.
7. Wash the bite area with mild soap and warm water once the tick is removed. Over the next several days, keep an eye on it for signs of irritation or infection. If it doesn’t clear up in a few days, be sure to see your veterinarian.
MAKE SURE ALL OF THE TICK IS REMOVED!
You need to make sure you remove all of the tick’s body from your pet’s skin to
prevent additional infection and discomfort. Be sure to draw out the entire tick;
both the head and legs.
If you are nervous or uncomfortable to do this, you can call your veterinarian for advice. He or she is trained at tick removal and will be able to tell whether or not you need help. It is not uncommon for a single dog to have multiple ticks (20+) if he has been on a particular hiking trail during peak tick season (May and September). If that is the case, to keep your pet safe during and after the removal process, we recommend you ask your veterinarian for help. Be sure to ask about preventative as well!
1. Blagburn BL, Dryden MW. Biology, treatment, and control of flea and tick infestations. Vet Clin N Am Small Anim Pract. 2009;39(6):1173-1200.
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