Apr 16 2013

Creepy Crawlers

Ticks who have been dormant throughout the winter will start moving again in the spring looking for a host, which could be you or your pet!

What do you do if you find a tick on your dog?  Remove it.

Hard ticks look like a flat seed and are the ones we usually see on our pets. Once they are engorged with blood they can look like a gray growth or ‘raisin’ on the skin of the animal.  Ticks attach most frequently around the pet’s head, ears, neck and feet but be sure to check the whole body. Ticks ‘bite’ by embedding the middle of three ‘mouth parts’ into the host’s skin.  If you find a tick the best way to remove it is to grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible and pull it straight out with steady even pressure.  Using flat tweezers, a gloved hand or a tissue are all simple ways to handle potentially infected ticks.  Avoid using methods such as a hot match, Vaseline or nail polish as they can actually cause the tick to salivate thus increasing the chance of infection from the reaction or increasing the chance of your pet getting a disease.  

After the tick is removed there will be a ‘bump’ that could look red or scabby, as the tick’s saliva causes a local skin irritation.  The swelling should disappear within a week or two.  Most people think this bump is because the head or mouthparts are still in their dog – this is rarely the case.  Either way, you’re going to watch for signs of infection in that area and call your veterinarian should you have concerns.

It is important to kill the tick before disposing to avoid a future bite or eggs being laid.  Crushing the hard exterior or placing in rubbing alcohol both are effective methods.

Although ticks can transmit disease, Lyme disease continues to be very rare in Alberta.  Ticks are usually nothing more than a nuisance. Preventative products are also available from your veterinarian. As long as you are checking your pet often, and removing ticks quickly, you and your pet should cruise through the tick season with no problems.

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