The days are getting longer, the ground is getting warmer and you are finally not dreading the thought of getting out of bed into the cold to walk the dog! Nothing could spoil this right? Until you get home and find there on your four-legged friends’ ear is a blood sucking tick, gross!
Don’t panic! With a few simple steps you can have that nasty tick gone for good. This article will also explain why you need to tackle the invader properly, and exactly why it’s important to act fast!
Ticks transmit three main diseases; Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis and Babesiosis. Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and can cause inflammation of the joints, malaise and loss of appetite, it can also lead to kidney damage and other complications. This disease can also be transmitted to humans. Ehrlichiosis can cause fever, lethargy, poor appetite and lymph node enlargement. Babesiosis is a malarial type disease that can cause jaundice, lack of energy and fever. As you may have guessed, none of these diseases are pleasant and so tick vigilance is key.
Ticks climb grasses and stems, waiting for the next unsuspecting mammal to pass by. After taking your dog for a walk it is a good idea to check them for ticks. Look for unusual bumps, particularly around the ears, head, neck, groin, armpits and feet.
So, you find a tick on your dog. First things first you need to be sure that’s what it is. You wouldn’t be the first to try and twist off a new mole on your aging best friend.
- If it is a tick, you should be able to see legs, even when they are very tiny. They have eight legs and they will be very close to the dog’s skin, underneath the body of the tick will appear black.
- It should move easily if it’s a tick, or it may move by itself. Moles generally are fully attached to the skin and won’t be floppy.
- You have been walking where there are lots of sheep or high grasses. Ticks climb to the top of the grass and have tiny little hooks that help them attach to unassuming passing animals and people.
Yes, it’s a tick, there are lots of techniques to remove them, and everyone seems to have a preferred method.
- Do you want to be prepared and buy a specialist tool? The picture below shows you the type which I personally have found the easiest to use. No need to apply pressure, simply identify the base of the tick which is where it is attached to the skin and then make sure the tick is in between the ‘fork’ section and twist. It literally is as simple as that. I can be advisable to keep one at home, or in your car, some tick tools are credit card size so will go in your wallet.
- If you have a tick right now but no tool, grab a pair of tweezers, calm the dog, getting someone to help if necessary. Ensure you get the tweezers as close to the skin as possible and pinch the base of the tick with the tweezers and pull gently. Don’t pinch the body of the tick, the big bit you can see, this will ‘pop’ it and blood will come out increasing the risk of disease and infection.
- Don’t be tempted to burn the ticks off as the head may be left under the skin.
- If you are not confident please consult a vet. Infections require antibiotics and if you are not covered by a flea treatment that includes ticks then transfer of disease is much more likely.
- Don’t forget to check yourself and anyone walking with you. Don’t forget your clothes, ticks have been shown to survive a washing machine cycle.
Now what do I do with it!
- Our personal advice is to put it into some sort of bag, a poo bag or sandwich bag will do, tie a tight knot in it and put it straight in the bin. This way you can be sure it will not escape, and you do not have to worry about transmitting disease by accidently popping the body.
Why can’t I wait for it to drop off? True, once the tick has finished dining on your dog it will drop off, scurry away to hide and digest its food. This poses lots of problems:
- If your pet is not treated with a flea and tick treatment to deter these insects, then the likelihood of your dog contracting a disease is higher. The transmitting of the disease occurs because the tick deposits fluid into the bloodstream as it drinks.
- The longer the tick stays attached the more irritated and inflamed the skin will become and the dog has a higher risk of a secondary infection. The tick leaves a wound once it drops off the dog.
- The tick is now alive, in your house or garden, ready to reattach once it has digested its dinner.
- Female ticks, if fully mature can lay up to 5000 eggs in the environment. These eggs can take up to 2 months to hatch and then the larvae can live in the environment for nearly two years!
Hopefully this has given you some practical advice but if you are still worried then pop down to your local Carrs Billington and chat to our friendly staff about the different ways of protecting your dog.