Ticks are disease-carrying, blood-sucking arachnid parasites that happily attach themselves to any animal, including pets. They're usually found in long grass and while preventable, many dogs pick one up at some point. It's important to remove ticks quickly since they can cause diseases such as Lyme disease in humans. While the chances of contracting such diseases largely depend on where the tick is from, even those that don't carry diseases can cause severe symptoms such as "tick paralysis".
How do you know if your dog has ticks?
You may notice a change in behaviour. Symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, stiff joints and lethargy, vomiting, or diarrhea. Occassionally some dogs may suffer seizures.
How long does a tick stay on a dog?
Anywhere from 3-10 days depending on the age of the tick. Ticks are known to drop off a host once they're full and many owners will leave a tick attached to their dog until it's finished feeding.
Should I be worried if my dog has a tick?
Yes. Unfortunately, this increases the risk of contracting any life-threatening diseases the tick is carrying or anemia. While it would take many ticks to cause anemia in a healthy dog, young pups, elderly canines and those with severe underlying health conditions are at risk of becoming quite ill if ticks are left.
Don't use Tweezers to remove ticks
The most common incorrect advice given is to use a pair of tweezers at the base of the tick, where the jaw meets the skin, giving the tick a twist and pulling it off. Unfortunately, this often leaves the tick's jaws embedded in the skin, which can cause infections leading to sepsis of the blood. The other danger of using tweezers is causing the tick to burst, which can also lead to an infection.
What should I do if my dog has ticks?
Removing a tick is easy and safe when done properly using a tick remover, known as a Tick Twister. However, many sources state different ways of removing a tick from a dog, some of which can cause complications and dangers that lead to further illness and distress.
How to Safely Remove a Tick
The best way to remove a tick from a dog is to use a "tick hook", or “tick twister” available at pet stores and veterinary clinics. The hook gets a good grip on the tick and removes its entire body without leaving any parts embedded. It's also advisable to apply an anti-parasitic treatment (e.g. Frontline, Stronghold), which is safe to use on your dog but will force the tick to let go of it. Once the tick lets go, you should always kill it. This is difficult since they're tough little parasites! However, you can squash or burn them, preventing the tick from passing on any diseases to other hosts, including humans.
If you suspect any parts of the tick's jaw are left in your dog's skin or if any swelling occurs after you've removed the tick, it's imperative to seek veterinary treatment. Prevention is always better than cure, so use a parasite treatment regularly and avoid long grassy areas.
How can I prevent ticks?
By doing daily, all over body checks. Running your hands over your dogs body from nose to tail, checking for any lumps and bumps. In conjunction with that, using tick parasite control treatment recommended by your Vet.