By Humane Society of Southwest Missouri
Special to GUIDON
While there are many ways to prevent tick infestation, it is impossible to completely protect your dog from ticks.
Ticks are small, commonplace and extremely resilient and any dog that spends any amount of time outside runs the risk of getting ticks.
Thankfully, there are ways to prevent ticks from causing your dog to become seriously ill.
Catch it early
Check your dog each time it comes in from outdoors. Run your hands over the dog’s entire body and look for small, raised bumps that indicate tick infestation. If you do find a tick, carefully remove it by using a pair of clean tweezers to gently pull the tick from its location. Alternatively, you can use a commercial tick remover.
Ideally, you will want to pull the entire tick from the dog’s body. However, do not worry if part of the tick breaks off and remains inside. Allow a few days for nature to take its course; the dog’s body will usually expel the tick body part on its own. Trying to remove it may actually increase the risk of infection.
Once the tick has been removed, place it in a small jar of isopropyl alcohol. Date the jar so you know when the tick was pulled as this can help a doctor identify tick-borne illnesses, should your dog become sick at a later date. Disinfect the area to prevent infection.
Keep an eye on your dog
Tick-borne illnesses include Lyme Disease, Anaplasmosis and Rock Mountain spotted fever and some ticks may carry more than one disease simultaneously. While not all ticks carry diseases, some do and it can take up to 21 days for symptoms to appear.
Keep a close eye on your dog during this time and immediately take your pet to the veterinarian if it shows signs of arthritis, fatigue, fever, unwillingness to move and/or has difficulty breathing. You should also take your dog to the veterinarian if the area the tick was pulled from has a rash or shows signs of infection.
Ticks are tiny creatures that can cause big health problems — for animals and humans. A wise dog owner will keep vegetation near the home short, avoid long walks in wooded areas and use a tick collar and/or topical treatments to keep these small pests at bay.
Preventing ticks is always simpler and safer than having to remove them and/or deal with the serious illnesses they can transmit.