Dog Tick Problems and Solutions
Even if you’re an apartment dweller in the city, it’s really not a good idea to keep your pet dog all cooped up all the time. Pet dogs need to get out every so often. The problem is that once your dogs get out, they may pick up a dog tick or two as hitchhikers.
What’s So Bad about Dog Ticks?
There are several reasons why dog ticks are bad news. They’re ugly, and they feed by taking blood from your dogs that can make them anemic. When your dogs have lots of dog ticks, hugging them and playing with them becomes rather unpleasant.
But there’s more to the problem than just merely being unpleasant. There’s also the risk of dog tick diseases that can truly weaken your dogs, and some of these diseases can also affect humans too.
In the US, these diseases include Lyme’s disease which is actually quite well-known. Transmitted by the blacklegged tick in the northern and upper Midwestern US and the western blacklegged tick in the Pacific coast, Lyme disease infects the tissues and the problem can end up with lameness. Unlike humans which show a “bull’s eye” rash at the site of the tick bite, in dogs the signs are not that obvious
Other diseases transmitted by ticks which can affect humans are anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and babesiosis. There are two types of canine anaplasmosis, and one type can affect humans and cause nosebleeds and bruising in belly and gums. Babesiosis can cause lethargy and weakness, while RMSF can even be fatal.
So how do you prevent your dogs from getting ticks? One way is to minimize its time outside the home, and you especially want to keep them from wooded areas where ticks like to lie in wait for a host to latch on.
You should also trim your trees, lawn, and bushes to reduce the flea and tick population in your own yard. Your local pet store or vet may also recommend sprays and treatments.
You may also want to think about using natural tick repellent products if you’re not sure about your ability to use the chemicals properly. These repellents may include vinegar, the taste and smell of which the ticks really hate. Other natural repellents may also contain sulfur. Citrus or peppermint oil, as well as lemon juice, will also repel ticks and fleas, and they smell better too.
Finally, even with all these measures you still need to regularly check your dogs for ticks. Do this by running your fingers carefully over the whole body of your dog. Take note of swollen and bumpy areas, as the tick may have burrowed there. And don’t limit your tactile and visual inspection to just the torso. Look between their toes, under the armpits, around the neck and face, and inside the ears. Hopefully you can get to the tick before it attaches itself to your dog and becomes engorged with blood.
But if you find a tick that has already attached itself, you will have to be careful when you remove it.
What NOT To Do when Removing Ticks
Many people seem to have learned how to get rid of ticks on dogs from various questionable sources, so first we need to clear up a few things. Here are some methods you really need to avoid:
- Brushing, scraping or forcibly pulling the tick off the skin. The tick has a probe which to attach to your pet dog, so when you roughly remove the tick you can cause the probe to break off under the skin. This can lead to even more problems such as infection.
- Removing the ticks with your bare hands or fingernails. As we’ve already mentioned, these ticks can transmit diseases which can affect people.
- Using a toxin, insecticide, alcohol, Vaseline, or soap on the tick. Dogs like to lick themselves, so these things can poison your dog, which we assume is something you don’t really want to do.
- Burning or singeing off the tick. Again, this can really harm and hurt your pet dog.
- Letting your dog handle the problem themselves. Your pet dog does not have a natural way of repelling or removing these ticks, and so as an owner this job is your responsibility.
How to Remove a Tick from a Dog
There are several commercial products you can use to get rid of ticks once they’ve become a problem for your pet dogs. One particularly effective solution is Frontline Plus for dogs, which kills both fleas and ticks.
You only need to apply it once a month and it acts quickly in attacking fleas and ticks in all stages of their development. It’s waterproof too, so you can bath your dog and you won’t have to reapply the solution until the month is up.
You can also remove the ticks manually, but you will need to supply yourself first with the right equipment. You’ll need a pair of gloves, a commercial tick remover or even just a clean pair of tweezers, antiseptic, and some isopropyl alcohol.
First you’ll need to wear the gloves. If you’re using tweezers, be as gentle as possible in grasping the tick, and get as close to the ski as you can. Now gently but in a steady and straight motion, pull outward and remove the entire tick, taking care ot to leave the probe behind.
If you’re using a tick remover, press it near the tick against the skin. Slide the notch of the remover under the tick, and continue this until the tick is pulled free caught in the small end of the notch.
Drop the tick in a small container with isopropyl alcohol. The alcohol kills the tick and also preserves it, just in case you need the vet to identify it. Watch for any symptoms of disease (fatigue, loss of appetite, fever, etc.), and monitor the area where you pulled off the tick to check for infections.
Afterward removing the dog tick, wash your hands and give your dog a treat as a reward.