Tick season is upon us and it’s important to make sure you and your pup stay safe as you spend more time out in the great outdoors. After months of a cold hard winter, your pup is ready to spend time rolling in the grass and soaking up the sunshine.
Tick-borne diseases have become an epidemic thanks to milder winters due to climate change. It’s enabled ticks to survive and expand at a dramatic rate. Lyme disease is the most well-known, but we’re seeing significantly higher rates of all tick-related illnesses—from Rocky Mountain spotted fever to Anaplasmosis—all across the country. While ticks are most commonly found in wooded areas and marshy spots near lakes and oceans, you can even find them in the middle of New York City.
According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tickborne illnesses went from approximately 22,000 to 48,000 in just over 10 years. Lyme disease is the most common disease transmitted by ticks and accounts for 75% of tickborne diseases in 2016.
Step 1: Scan for Ticks
Check your dog for ticks every day. It would be even better to check them every time they come into the house! You can make checking for ticks a nice special bonding time for you and your furry friend. Get down on the floor with them and run your fingers all over their fur and use a flea comb to ensure you don’t miss anything. Be sure to check between his toes, under his armpits, the insides of his ears, and around his face, chin and underbelly—and don’t forget to do some massage while you are at it! Your dog will come to look forward to this time with you every night.
Step 2: Is it a Tick?
Take a closer look if you feel a little bump. If you find one, don’t panic. If you stay calm, your dog will stay calm. Ticks can be black, brown or tan and they have eight legs. They can also be tiny: some species are only as large as the head of a pin.
Step 3: Safe Removal
To ensure safe removal of the tick, wear gloves while handling tick to avoid contact with your skin. You’ll need gloves, clean tweezers/tick remover, disinfectant or antiseptic cream and isopropyl alcohol. Using tweezers or a tick remover, grasp tick as close to your dog’s skin as possible (without pinching your pet). Pull it out in a straight, steady motion. Anything left behind could lead to an infection.
Step 4: Cleanup and After-Care
Drop the tick into isopropyl alcohol and note the date you found the tick. If your pet begins displaying symptoms of a tick-borne illness, your veterinarian may want to identify or test it. Some symptoms include arthritis or lameness that lasts for three to four days, reluctance to move, swollen joints, fever, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, loss of appetite and neurological problems.
Wash your hands, clean your pet’s wound with antiseptic and make sure to clean your tweezers with isopropyl alcohol.
Keep an eye on the area where the tick was to see if an infection surfaces. If the skin remains irritated or infected, make an appointment with your veterinarian.
Step 5: Prevent Future Bites
If your pet spends time outdoors, you should routinely check for ticks. Ticks transfer between hosts, so it is important to check all family members after outdoor activities in wooded, leafy or grassy areas. Talk to your vet about vaccinations, pills, sprays, and collars that can help to prevent bites. If you want to go the natural route, contact me for more information on all natural internal tick powders and sprays.