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Tick Prevention and Removal for Puppies

Ticks are blood-sucking parasites that prefer furry creatures such as puppies, but they settle for humans in a pinch. You can help prevent ticks from latching onto your puppy and learn how to remove them if it becomes necessary.

Ticks are remarkably tiny until they’ve filled up with blood. To find ticks on your pet, disguise your tick search as a massage session. Probing deep into your puppy’s fur, feel for unusual, tiny bumps in your dog’s coat.

Removing a tick from your puppy

Ticks love to climb, so their favorite area is around your puppy’s head. Removing a tick isn't easy. When ticks feed, they insert barbs into the skin like fish hooks. If you try to pull a tick out, you end up with a headless, blood-filled sac, and your puppy ends up with a nasty bump on her head.

Removing ticks is easiest before they dig in, but you have to act fast. The low-tech flea comb is your best friend after your pup’s been on a walk or hike. Comb your pup with this thin-toothed tool to remove ticks before they implant.

To remove a tick that’s already bitten down, follow these steps:

  1. Stun the tick for 30 seconds with a cotton ball soaked in mineral oil.

  2. With special tick-removing tweezers (available at pet stores), press down on the skin on either side of the tick.

  3. Squeeze the skin surrounding the tick tightly and grasp the head.

  4. Lift up and out.

    This step can be painful for your pup, so you may want to give her a spoonful of peanut butter or some biscuits while you take care of the removal business.

  5. Dispose of the tick.

    It’s hard to kill these (blood) suckers. They’re drown-proof, squish-proof, and squeeze-proof. The best way to kill ticks is usually to burn them or drop them into a jar of bleach, rubbing alcohol, or vodka (for lower toxicity). If you have children, keep the jar out of their reach.

  6. Wash your hands thoroughly when you’re done.

Deterring ticks in the first place

Ticks can latch on at any level — they fall from trees, attach to the undergrowth, and crawl on the ground. The following tips help you prevent ticks from feasting on your puppy:

  • Walk your puppy in the open sunshine. Walking in the sunshine is safer because most ticks prefer to hang out in shaded, woody areas.

  • Inspect yourself and your puppy during and after every walk in the woods or a field. If you’re with a human partner, take turns looking each other over from head to toe. If traveling alone, bring a mirror. To protect yourself, wear light colors (making the ticks easier to spot), tuck your pant legs into your socks, and wear a cap.

  • Apply a homemade, nontoxic spray. Spray your puppy with a mixture of eucalyptus, lavender, and tea tree oil.

  • Speak to your veterinarian about recommending a good topical treatment to prevent ticks. Many products on the market are highly effective tick repellants. With topical spot treatments, you put a drop of the product on the puppy’s skin; the repellent moves through the pup’s oil glands and hair follicles to cover the whole body.

    If you prefer a spray repellent to a topical one, remember not to spray repellent around your puppy’s eyes. To treat her forehead and ears, place the product onto a glove and massage into those hard-to-reach areas. Don’t forget her paws.

Store-bought tick products are toxic. To prevent your puppy from licking herself after treatment, keep her occupied with her favorite game until the product dries. Discuss safe treatments with your veterinarian.

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