Let’s talk dog ticks. They’re sometimes difficult to spot, and uncomfortable – not to mention potentially dangerous – for your pet, so it’s important to be clear on what to do if you find one. Here’s all you need to know…
What are ticks?
Ticks are small, spider-like parasites, usually reddish-brown in colour, and they can cause illnesses like Lyme Disease and Tickborne Fever. Thankfully, they’re usually harmless and can be removed with ease if you know what you’re doing!
How does a tick get attached to a dog?
It’s all thanks to the tiny hooks found on ticks’ legs. Contrary to popular belief, ticks can’t jump or fly, but will simply latch on as a dog passes by. They tend to be found lurking in long grass in the summer months for this reason.
Ticks can be as small as the head of a pin at first, so it’s crucial to really check your dog over often – especially if they’ve been in areas where ticks are common. Ticks tend to attach to the head and neck, but they can be found all over the body – including inside the ears. They get bigger after a few days, which is when most people spot them.
How to prevent ticks
- Keep any grass in your garden and around your home nice and trim – ticks love long shrubs to hang onto
- Avoid tick breeding grounds in the summer months, like moorland and woodland – stick to pathways instead
- Check to see if your dog’s flea and worming treatment also protects against ticks – if not, ask your vet for one that does
- Invest in a tick repellent spray (it should contain Permethrin to be effective)
- Consider a tick-repelling collar like this one
What to do if you spot a tick
It’s important to remove a tick as soon as possible to prevent infection. You’ll need a special tick tool to do so, and you should only attempt it if you feel confident. If not, visit your vet for assistance. Here’s what to do:
- Wash your hands with soap
- Loop the tick tool around the tick, getting as close to the surface of the skin as possible
- Pull upwards and gently twist in a smooth motion, making sure you’ve completely removed the head. The tick should detach after a couple of light rotations.
- Dispose of the tick (ideally in a sealed bag) and clean the area with warm water, a cotton pad and some saline solution
As a watchout, ignore any ‘traditional’ removal methods you may find listed online, such as burning ticks off or drawing them out with Vaseline. The only way to properly extract them is as we’ve described above.
Want more tips about keeping your dog safe and happy this summer? Check out our guide on how to settle your dog when travelling somewhere new.