Ticks can be a serious problem for dogs in the summer, especially in some parts of the country. By some estimations, more ticks are being seen today than previously, partly because of reforestation. There are more woods today so there are more deer and other animals, and with them come more ticks.
If you find a tick on your dog it's important to remove the tick properly. Otherwise you could leave the head of the tick on your dog and it will continue to burrow and feed, and possibly transmit disease to your dog.
Removing a tick
There are some tick removal devices on the market and these can be used on dogs as well as humans. However, you really only need a pair of tweezers to remove a tick from your dog. (Information adapted from the Centers for Disease Control):
1. Use the tweezers and grasp the tick as close to the surface of your dog's skin as possible.
2. Use steady, even pressure and pull upward on the tick. Don't jerk or twist when pulling the tick. This might cause the tick's mouth parts to tear off and stay in the skin. If the mouth does break off, use the tweezers to try to remove them, too. If you can't remove the mouth parts, leave them alone and let the skin heal over them.
3. Once you have successfully removed the tick, clean the affected area with alcohol. You should also clean your hands with alcohol. If you don't have alcohol you can use soap and water or iodine.
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Forget about old-time remedies to make the tick detach itself such as covering it with petroleum jelly, or using a match to apply heat to it. Even if they worked, they take too long and the tick could continue to transmit disease to your dog. You need to remove the tick as quickly as possible from your dog.
The best way to stop ticks is to use a good preventive. Many flea preventives also contain a tick preventive. Some of these preventives include Frontline Plus, K9 Advantix II, and others. Always check the label to make sure that a tick preventive is included if you live in an area where you dog can pick up ticks. Most of these products must be applied on a monthly basis.
You can also use a flea and tick shampoo or a dip. These can be harsher on a dog's skin and coat so they are not recommended for all dogs. If your dog has dry, itchy, or sensitive skin, this is probably not a good option.
You can kill ticks by using diatomaceous earth in your yard. Diatomaceous earth is a natural substance that is made from soft sedimentary rock. Although it is soft to the touch, it has fine edges at the microscopic level and when fleas and ticks come in contact with it, it will scrape away their external covering, leaving them to dry out and die. This is a good, natural way to kill these pests. Simply spread the diatomaceous earth around your yard and it will kill the fleas and ticks that come in contact with it.
The best way to keep ticks away from your dog is through prevention. When you do need to remove a tick from your dog, do so carefully and promptly. The bite should heal in just a few days. If it does not, take your dog to see your vet.