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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Safety Tips: How to Protect your Dog from Ticks

With Memorial Day weekend behind us, you are probably recovering from your long weekend and already looking forward to your next vacation.  If your next trip includes heading to the lake for the weekend, camping, or just a general rendezvous with nature...this post is for you!

As you enjoy the warm weather with your furry friend it's important that you be proactive and informed when it comes to the pesky pests and parasites that summer brings.

Did you know ticks can and DO bite in winter?!  If the weather is above 35 degrees Fahrenheit you are at risk.

In this issue, we are going to focus on discussing the health risks associated with ticks, how to protect your dog from them, and also how to remove them from your dog if he or she is bitten.

Let's begin with a little Tick 101...

In case you aren't familiar with ticks, they are small parasitic arachnids that attach themselves to a number of organisms in order to feed off their blood (ew...Gross! I know).  Because of this, they can be vectors for a whole host of diseases, such as Lyme Disease, ehrlichiosis, and anaplasmosis.  The most common and well-known disease is Lyme Disease; which can take weeks or months for symptoms to present.  Lyme Disease and other tick-related illnesses can lead to debilitating health issues or even death.  It's important to understand your environment and potential risks associated with your area.  We recommend checking out, which is a great resource to help you locate which species of ticks live near you.

Taken from

Once you have identified which ticks and diseases are prevalent in your area, you are better equipped to know which steps to take next in order to protect your pet.  We recommend checking with your veterinarian to request a vaccination for Lyme Disease and then decide whether a topical medication or tick collar is best for your pup.  It is also recommended by many veterinarians to have an annual screening to check for any vector-borne illnesses to see if your dog as been exposed.  This should be completed at your annual check-up.

As part of your prevention plan, you should check for ticks everyday during the peak season.  This is usually spring, summer, and fall...unless you live in a warmer climate then you should check year round.  We recommend checking as part of your grooming regimen or as you pet your dog.  To check, run your fingers through your dog's fur and use enough pressure to be able to feel for any small bumps.

Key areas to focus on are:

  • Paws (even in-between toes)
  • Under arms
  • Ears (inside and behind)
  • Around the tail and head area  
If you feel a small bump, part the fur and check to see if this is a parasite or part of your dog's skin.

Ticks that have been removed from a host.

So, if you find a tick the next step is to remove it...

How do I remove a tick?

When removing a tick be extremely careful.  You want to be gentle and methodical, so as not to break up the tick and leave part of the parasite in your dog's skin.  If the tick is punctured, it's saliva and infectious contents can escape into your dog's skin and even yours if you are not careful or wearing protective gloves.

To remove, follow these steps by

  1. Grasp the tick very close to the skin with a pair of fine-tipped tweezers
  2. With a steady motion, pull the tick's body away from the skin.  Avoid crushing the tick to prevent infection
  3. After removal, clean your dog's skin with soap and warm water.
  4. Dispose of the tick by placing in alcohol and flushing down the toilet.

Tweezers specifically designed for Tick removal.  
What if my dog is infected?

If your pup does test positive for any of these common tick-related illnesses, there are treatment options.  If discovered early on, most dogs can be treated with antibiotics and begin to show improvement in less than a week.  It's when signs and symptoms go untreated for prolonged periods of time that makes recovery more difficult.

Lastly, it is important to remember that if your dog is found to have a vector-borne illness your family may be at risk as well.  This will require your family to be tested to ensure the illness has not been passed on.

We hope you found this post informative and helpful.  Have a happy and healthy summer!


A & A

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