Our cats and dogs love playing outside just as much as we do. And just like humans, we need to protect our dogs from tick bites.
Unfortunately, our dogs and cats can also contract tick-borne illnesses like Lyme disease.
Keeping your pets inside all the time is just cruel, so when they do play outside you’ll want to check them for ticks when they come inside.
“Ideally, pets should be checked for ticks anytime they’ve been outside, especially if they’ve been out hiking or walking in wooded areas or tall grass,” Dr. Lee Herold of DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital told The Dodo. “Over the past three decades, cases of Lyme disease have increased and spread across the U.S., meaning vigilance during spring, summer and fall will be key to your pet’s health.”
You should still check your pet for ticks, even if you are putting tick repelling medication or collars on them.
How to Spot a Tick
Ticks can easily hide in your pet’s fur, especially if they have a thick coat. To do a thorough check, run your fingers over the top of their head and all over their body to see if you feel any tiny bumps.
A tick can be the size of a pinhead to the size of a jelly bean.
You’ll want to pay extra attention to the parts of your pet that generate the most heat since ticks love warm dark places. So, that means their tail, face, chin, between their toes, the inside of their ears and armpits.
If you spot a bump, you’ll know it’s a tick bite if you see a tick butt sticking out of it. It will usually be brown or black. If the tick is engorged with blood it will be a light gray color. You should remove the tick immediately and properly dispose of it to keep you and your pets safe.
How to Remove a Tick
Step 1) Put on a pair of gloves so that your skin doesn’t come into contact with the tick. Next, take a pair of fine-tip tweezers and hold them horizontally and clasp the tick up as close to the skin as you can get it without hurting your pet.
Step 2) Pull the tick straight up and try to remove it in one motion. Try not to move, twist, or jerk the tweezers when you remove the tick so that you don’t leave any parts of the tick in your animals.
Step 3) Some people flush the tick down the toilet or burn it with a lighter once it is removed from your pet’s body.
However, some vets recommend placing the tick in a plastic baggie or clean empty pill bottle and bringing the tick to your vet so that the tick can be identified and tested in the event that your pet starts to show signs of tick-borne illness.
Step 4) Place some rubbing alcohol or an iodine rinse to disinfect the bite area. Make sure you wash your hands to.
Step 5) There are a number of diseases your pets can contract from a tick bite, including Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, or Babesiosis. You can find more information about them here.
Make sure to observe your pet for tick-borne illness symptoms, such as lethargy, lameness, and loss of appetite, and immediately report these symptoms to your vet.
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