How to Check for Ticks

Ticks are a threat that no one wants to find on their dog. Ticks can transmit diseases and even cause anemia or paralysis in your pet. As a dog owner, there are some basic facts you should know about the risks, prevention and removal of ticks. You can learn how to check for ticks and protect your pet from this annoying problem.

Ticks are parasitic arthropods that feed on the blood of their hosts. They are attracted to warmth and motion, often seeking out mammals like dogs. Ticks tend to hide out in tall grass or plants in wooded areas. If your dog enjoys romping around in areas like this, its chances of contracting a tick infection is greatly increased.

Once a dog comes in contact with the tick, it climbs on and attaches its mouthparts into the skin and begins sucking on the dog’s blood. Once locked in place, the tick will not detach until its meal is complete. It may continue to feed for several hours to several days, depending on the type of tick. On dogs, ticks often attach themselves in crevices or areas with little to no hair – typically in and around the ears, areas where the insides of the legs meet the body, between the toes, and in skin folds.

Most species of ticks go through four life stages – eggs, larvae, nymphs, and adults. All stages beyond the egg stage will attach to a dog for a blood meal. The life span of a tick can be several months to years, and female adult ticks can lay hundreds to thousands of eggs at one time.

The following ticks are among the most common types in the U.S. –
* Deer tick
* Brown dog tick
* Lone star tick
* American dog tick

The Dangers of Ticks
Not all ticks transmit disease – in fact, many ticks don’t carry any diseases. However, the threat of disease is always possible where ticks are concerned, and these risks should always be taken seriously. Most tick-borne diseases will take several hours to transmit to a dog, so the sooner a tick is located and removed, the lower the risk of disease.

The symptoms of most tick-borne diseases include fever and lethargy, though some can also cause weakness, lameness, joint swelling and anemia. These signs can take days, weeks or sometimes as long as months to materialize. Some ticks can cause a temporary condition called “tick paralysis,” which is exhibited by a gradual onset of your dog having difficulty walking that may develop into paralysis.

If you notice any signs of illness in your dog after exposure to wooded areas or after removal of visible ticks, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible for testing and treatments.

Some of the most common tick-borne diseases are:
* Lyme disease
* Anaplasmosis
* Babesiosis
* Ehrlichiosis
* Rocky Mountain spotted fever

How to Check for Ticks on Your Dog
To search for ticks, run your hands all over its body, paying close attention to the ears, neck, skin folds and other crevices. Closely examine any raised areas by parting the hair. Depending on species and life stage, a tick may be as small as a pencil point or as large as a lima bean when engorged with the blood of your dog. If you live in an area where ticks are prevalent, or your dog spends a lot of time in high grasses or wooded areas, you should check for ticks once or twice a day.

Here is the proper way to remove ticks:
1. Wear latex gloves to protect yourself. Use a pair of tweezers or a specially-designed tick removal tool to grasp the tick where it has attached itself to your dog’s body.

2. Be very careful not to squeeze the body of the tick when trying to remove it. This could cause bacteria to be injected into the bite area.

3. Pull the tick straight out from the skin slowly and steadily. Try not to twist or turn the tweezers or tool. Some of your dog’s skin may come off with the tick, but this is normal. If there is bleeding from the skin just apply slight pressure to the area.

4. If part of the tick’s head still appears to be embedded in your dog’s skin, use the tweezers to gently pull it out. If all of the head can’t be removed at this time it should eventually fall off. Complications from tick’s heads not being removed are rare, as the tick is dead and obviously can no longer feed on your dog.

5. After removing all the ticks you can find, clean your dog’s skin at the bite areas using Pet Solutions Rx. This is an all-natural, non-toxic, antibacterial, antimicrobial and antifungal agent that promotes rapid healing. It’s an all-inclusive “first aid” in a bottle that reduces bleeding of minor wounds, decreases pain, swelling and itching.

It is important to know that there are no shortcuts to make a tick release itself from its host – a tick will not voluntarily detach until its meal is complete. DO NOT apply hot matches, nail polish, petroleum jelly, alcohol or other chemicals to the site. These methods are not effective and can be harmful to your dog.

Learning how to check for ticks and how to rid your dog of them plays an important role in your dog’s health.