By Arden Moore, a certified pet first aid/CPR instructor with Pet Tech, a hands-on training program. Arden is an author, radio host, and writer for Pets Best, a pet insurance agency for dogs and cats.
Spring ushers in warm weather and motivates you to spend more time outdoors with your dog. Unfortunately, the great outdoors is home to more than 800 types of ticks capable of transmitting more than a dozen diseases, some lethal. Ticks can transmit Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and ehrlichiosis, to name a few.
According to veterinarians, your best defense against ticks causing disease in your dog is to keep him on year-round flea and tick control. And, always check your dog thoroughly from head to tail after taking a hike.
If you do discover a tick on your dog’s coat, it’s natural to be a bit startled at first. But take a breath and follow this five-step guide to safely and completely remove the tick:
1. Put on rubber gloves to prevent touching the tick directly and putting yourself at risk for contracting any tick-transmitting disease.
2. Use the right tick-removal tools. Opt for fine-tipped tweezers or a tick-removal tool. Never use nail polish, petroleum jelly or worse, a hot match. These are ineffective and can actually cause the tick to emit more of its disease-carrying saliva into your dog.
3. Part the hair on your dog’s coat to better locate the entire tick. Use the tweezers or tick-removal tool and grab the tick by its head and steadily pull the tick away from your dog’s skin. Pulling close to the head makes it more likely that the whole tick will be removed without releasing any of its bodily fluids.
4. Dispose of the tick properly. It may be a female tick with eggs inside her body, so you need to drop the tick into a bottle of isopropyl alcohol and tightly seal the bottle. Alcohol kills ticks. Never drop the tick into the toilet because ticks have air sacs that enable them to survive in water.
5. Dab an antiseptic on your dog’s skin where the tick was removed and reward him with a healthy treat for behaving during the tick-removal process. Wash your hands thoroughly with warm, soapy water and rinse.
You can learn more about Lyme disease in dogs in this article from veterinarian Dr. Fiona http://www.petsbest.com/blog/dog-disease-lyme/.