*Disclosure: I am not a veterinarian (although I have been married to one for almost 15 years!) so this advice for what to do if you find a tick on your dog is just my personal opinion based on my person experience and observations.
Ick! What to do when you find a tick on your dog!
Camping, barbecues, lemonade and ticks. It’s summer but it’s also prime tick season. Those creepy crawly things that we can find on ourselves after a day of hiking in the hills or fishing our favorite water, we can also find on our beloved pets, especially our dogs.
Okay, so you found a tick on your dog, now what?
First of all, if you find one there is likely more and obviously the hairier the dog the more difficult they can be to find. When our dogs are running through the brush headfirst, these nasty little buggers are sitting and waiting like a hitchhiker for a ride. They are often found around the head and shoulders but can be found anywhere on the dog. Sometimes when they have been attached awhile and have become engorged, they are easy to spot (and so repulsive). If they have not been on your dog long or are in immature stages, they can be rather small so make sure to look carefully especially in creases and folds on your dog. Before a tick becomes engorged, they can actually be tricky to spot!
The best way to remove one is to use a piece of gauze or napkin and isolate it from the hair as best you can and apply gentle, steady traction. Typically, the tick will release. Oftentimes people think “they left the head of the tick in the dog” but really their head is so small when compared to the rest of their blood engorged body that it just looks that way.
If you aren’t comfortable removing the tick this way, and many people aren’t, then there are also many tick removal tools available that actually work pretty well. We’ve listed some favorites below and since you’ll wish that you had one on hand when you first discover a tick, it never hurts to order now and tuck them away in a safe place.
Regardless of how you remove the tick, make sure to dispose of it properly so it doesn’t camp out as another houseguest and continue to look for another host. Where the tick was attached to your dog, a small area of dermatitis or skin inflammation may occur. A dab of Neosporin can be added to the bite location.
If you have any questions about ticks or concerns about tick borne diseases in your pet, certainly talk to your family veterinarian. He or she will likely have some answers. Tick borne diseases are considered zoonotic diseases which are transmissible to both animals and man, so any concerns should definitely be addressed and taken care of with a professional.
Of course, prevention is the best place to start. There are many over-the-counter tick preventatives available, in addition to, prescription tick preventatives available from your veterinarian.
Other action that you can take to prevent both dogs and humans from getting ticks is to carefully inspect yourself, your hair and your clothing upon returning home from outdoor activity. Often ticks will jump onto clothing and then work themselves onto a host so it is always a good idea to brush yourself off as much as you can before you get into a vehicle or home. Have a buddy look your over, check the dog and shake everyone out.
Once indoors, we always make everyone undress in our mudroom so that clothes can be shaken out and washed in case any ticks found their way home from our adventures with us. Many people don’t realize this, but quite often a tick can come into your home on a person and then end up attaching itself to the dog, or vice-versa! They don’t always stay on the first ride they hitch, so making sure that they don’t come into the house in the first place is always a fantastic idea.