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How to Get Rid of Ticks on Your Dog

Ticks are bad news: They transmit several diseases that can cause severe illness and even death in both dogs and humans, so keeping your dog tick-free is a top priority.

Huge numbers of tick eggs hatch each spring, and the young ticks climb onto grasses and other vegetation. Their sticky shells help them to cling to passing animals, including your adventurous pet dog.

Ticks quickly climb down the hair, attach to the skin, and begin to suck blood, only dropping off hours or days later when they are engorged. In the meantime, any microorganisms that were hitching a ride inside this insect traveler are transmitted to your dog through the tick’s mouth.

Keeping your dog as free of ticks as possible is always the safest bet — not only for your dog, but for you as well. Here are some tick-prevention tips:

  • During the tick season (April through September), limit your dog’s exposure to known tick-infested areas. Ticks often hide in tall grasses and dense vegetation.

  • Use a tick preventive during the spring and summer months. Several products on the market kill both fleas and ticks (and why not knock out both at the same time?). You can apply these products monthly to the skin at the back of your dog’s neck. Ask your veterinarian to recommend the most effective product for your dog.

  • Examine your dog for ticks daily during tick season. If you suspect he has been romping in a tick-infested area, examine him for ticks immediately. Be sure to check inside and behind his ears and around his eyes, all favorite tick hiding places.

To remove a tick, follow these steps:

  1. Use a pair of tweezers to grasp the head of the tick where it attaches to the skin.

    Wear gloves if you plan to use your fingers to remove the tick.

  2. Pull on the tick gently and steadily. If you yank the tick away from your dog too quickly, you’ll leave part of the tick’s mouth behind, which can cause an infection.

    In about 20 to 30 seconds, the tick’s mouth will release its grasp and the tick will come away cleanly.

  3. Dab some disinfectant on your dog on the bitten area, being extremely careful if you’re around your dog’s eyes.

  4. Kill the tick by placing it in alcohol.

  5. Save the dead tick in a resealable plastic bag, labeled with the date on which the tick was found.

    This may sound weird, but if your dog becomes ill, you may need to identify the species of tick that bit him.

Never remove a tick with your bare hands, and never crush a tick between your fingers. If you do, you put yourself at risk of contracting Lyme disease or one of the other tick-borne diseases.

If your dog becomes ill and you recently found a tick on him, seek veterinary attention immediately. Most tick-borne diseases can be treated successfully if a diagnosis is made immediately and appropriate treatment initiated. If the tick-borne organisms are allowed to gain a foothold, however, these bad bugs can cause serious illness or even death.

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