Ticks look like this creature — they're tiny black, brown, or reddish eight-legged insects about the size of a pinhead. However, when they attach themselves to your pet, they can swell up several times their original size. The common tick can transmit fatal illnesses like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme disease, and Summer is the time of year to really check your pet to prevent sickness in your furry friend.
Before heading outdoors, there are a few ways you can try to repel ticks from your pup.
- Make your own dog-safe tick repellent with ingredients you already have in your pantry and spritz on your pup before heading out for long hikes.
- On-staff Trupanion veterinarian Dr. Sarah Nold suggests an oral or topical tick repellent from your vet, some of which also act as a flea prevention.
- Another option is a Preventic collar, according to Dr. Eva Radke, veterinarian at East San Rafael Veterinary Clinic in California.
- Be aware of the environment outside where you're taking your pet. Make sure to cut your grass and remove brush.
Unfortunately, even preventative measures aren't a sure thing. If you do find a tick on your dog, don't panic! Here's what Dr. Nold and Dr. Radke recommend you do.
- It's important to avoid direct contact with the tick and contaminated skin. Diseases can be transmitted from tick to pet to human, so make sure you wear latex gloves.
- Place your pet somewhere where you can get a good grip and he stays as comfy as possible. It helps to have another set of hands to hold or distract him.
- Try to ID the head or mouth parts of the tick — you'll want to grasp it with tweezers or a Tick Twister as close to your pet's skin as possible. If you grasp it by the body, it can get crushed and force harmful bacteria into your pet's bloodstream.
- Pull the tick out using a straight, steady pulling motion. It's important to be slow and gentle so its head will not remain lodged in your pet's skin (which can lead to inflammation and secondary infection).
- Place the tick in a cup and poor rubbing alcohol on it to be sure to kill it.
- Apply rubbing alcohol to the skin where the tick bit your pet, followed by an antibacterial lotion.
- Keep in mind if you find one tick, you should check your pet thoroughly for additional ticks.
- Throw away your gloves and sterilize the tweezers, too.
- Now give your pet a treat — he's been through a lot!