Here is the last part of Tick Talk. We’ve covered what ticks are and why that matters to you and your pet in parts 1 and 2. Today we will go over prevention, and what to do if you happen to find a tick on your pet’s body.
Since ticks and the diseases they carry are an issue during the summer months in this part of the country, it’s important to start thinking about prevention when the snow starts melting. There are a few products that are available for tick prevention that have research behind them proving their efficacy. These products are prescription, which by law means we need to have a valid patient-client relationship (VPCR) with you and your pet. We also need to have a current, accurate weight so we don’t over or under dose your pet. These products are topical so they are applied to the skin of your pet once every 30 days during tick season.
Please call regarding your individual pet and situation as the specific product we recommend will vary depending on the specific pet’s age and health, as well as which other pets are present in the household. For example, there are some products that are not cat friendly, and so we want to remind everyone to NEVER use a dog product on your cat.
I hear you asking ‘What happens if we find a tick on our pet?’ which is a great question as no preventive medication will ever be 100% efficacious (although they are pretty close!). One of the products, called Revolution, works by poisoning the tick when it starts taking its blood meal, which means that the tick may attach to your pet but will die before it gets a chance to transmit disease. Another of the products, called Advantix, starts poisoning the tick as soon as it touches your pet’s skin.
We recommend to check your pet once every day for ticks. This will minimize the chance of them being on your pet long enough to transmit disease. If, by chance you find one, first make sure it is a tick! We see people try to remove skin tags, warts, nipples and other things from their pet that aren’t ticks, and the last thing we want is for a pet or person to be harmed while attempting this! Move the suspected tick from side to side to look for legs where it attaches to skin. Also, look at color as a tick should be a grey, tan or brown color. If you have any doubts, call us and we can help you. If you can’t get it out, if it starts to bleed or if your dog won’t hold still you should see a vet! If your dog bites you, get someone else to bring your dog to the vet while you go see your doctor.
If you are certain it’s a tick – wonderful!
You will need
- A pair of tweezers or a tick removal hook or long fingernails (this only works if you aren’t squeamish!).
- A Ziploc bag that contains a moistened cotton ball or moistened paper towel
- Warm water that has some soap in it and an over the counter general purpose antibiotic cream
- You absolutely do NOT need flame, Vaseline, gasoline, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, power tools or any other things you may have heard about. Safety for you and your pet is key here, and the way described is the best way to remove a tick safely. I promise.
Once you have gathered your supplies part the hair to figure out exactly where the tick attaches to your animal.
IMPORTANT! Do not squeeze the tick’s body as this may cause it to regurgitate into your pet. You could also burst the tick (which is pretty gross!), so try not to squeeze the tick at all if you can help it!
Then take your tool of choice and slide it under the tick between the head and the skin. The concept is a little like removing a nail with the claw of a hammer. You then use steady firm pressure to pull the tick straight up away from you pet. Hold the skin down on either side as it will tend to lift with your pulling pressure. These ticks can be really stuck in there so gradually increase your pressure – don’t be wimpy! You may feel a slight tearing sensation as the tick lets go, this is normal.
Hooray! Your tick is now out! Resist the urge to throw it away from you and run because that leaves the tick free to attach to you or your pet later! Place it into the Ziploc bag and place it in the fridge until you can bring it to the clinic. We will then send it, free of charge, to be tested for disease.
You can now disinfect the site with soap and warm water. Rinse well, then apply a little antibiotic cream. It’s normal to see a scab, a ring of pink or red and some hair loss where the tick was removed. However, if there is any discomfort or sign of infection we should examine your pet!