Dogs and Ticks
If you love going outdoors with your pooch, beware that the tick season is in full swing already. Ticks will live anywhere there are trees and shrubs and will take every opportunity to bite you and your canine companion. There are many things you can do to protect your dog from tick bites and there are several things you should know about looking for ticks on your dog.
Currently, the best product on the market for tick control is Frontline. This product is over the counter and can be purchased cheaply over the internet from www.petmeds.com. Be sure to verify the dosage with the weight of your dog. You should apply frontline to your dog every 3-4 weeks from April until October. Check with your vet if you have further questions. In addition, if you know your dog is exposed to ticks, be sure to take him to your vet for the lyme disease vaccination. Although Frontline will kill the ticks, the medication can only work once the tick has already bitten and so your dog may become infected with lyme disease although the tick has died before the feeding.
Ticks have a few favorite places they love to bite your dog. The paws are a favorite area - be sure to check between every toe top and bottom for small red or black marks. Ticks can range from less than a millimeter in diameter to over a centimeter depending on the age of the tick and whether or not it has had a blood meal already. Other favorite places include, but are not limited to the genitals, the rear, the tail base, the legs, the ears (both in the ear and behind the ear), the neck and in the warm skin under the legs. Your tick inspection should take quite some time and you might have an easier time finding ticks if the fur or hair is wet. Using a fine-tooth comb also helps locate the ticks.
Removing a tick is tricky business. If your dog is on frontline, the tick is probably already dead, so tweezers will do just fine. But if the tick is engorged and feeding, you may need to burn it out - which can also hurt the dog. Spreading the skin may pop out a tick if it is nearly done feeding, but burning the tick out is the safest because upon burning, the head is retracted out of the skin. Leaving the head in the skin may lead to infection. If you are not sure that your dog will bite you during the procedure, put a muzzle on him just for your own safety. Using an electric shaver, remove some hair from the region so the hair does not burn. Apply a SMALL flame (for example a match) to the tick for approximately 1-2 SECONDS. Repeat if necessary. Wash the area in alcohol or peroxide when the tick is removed. It is a good idea to save the tick in a sealed container, as well as note where the dog picked up the tick, and bring the tick to your vet for identification. If the vet identifies the tick as a potential carrier for lyme disease or other tick borne illnesses, she may recommend you bring your dog in for a blood test.
Lastly, always be sure to check yourself for ticks as well. Chances are if your dog has a few, so do you. The symptoms for lyme disease can take a few weeks to show up, so visit your physician if you or your dog are bitten.