One of the dangers of summer and fall, especially in Colorado, is that tiny nuisance called a tick. If you like to be outside with your dog, you need to know how to check your dog for ticks and remove them if necessary.
If your dog gets a tick, it takes only 24 to 48 hours for the nasty parasite to give your dog an infection or disease. That’s why it’s important to check your dog after every adventure, and promptly remove any unwanted guests.
Also noteworthy is that if a tick hitches a ride into your home on your dog’s back, it may very well end up attached to you or another family member when the tick switches hosts.
Run your hands through all of your dog's fur, beginning at the nose and ending at the tip of the tail. Be especially aware of areas such as your dog’s ears, armpits, toes, and chin. A tick would feel like a small bump or skin tag, so if you feel anything besides smooth skin and fur, take a close look to identify it.
Ticks can be black, brown, or tan, and they have eight tiny legs like a spider. They range in size from about one millimeter long to almost a half inch long.
- A pair of gloves
- A clean pair of tweezers or a tick remover
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Put on your gloves. You don’t want to risk getting any of the tick’s infection yourself.
- Remove the tick:When you have pulled the tick free, be sure to save the tick in case your dog gets sick. It may be helpful to bring the tick to your veterinarian for identification and testing. You can save the tick by putting it into a bag or container with isopropyl alcohol, which will immediately kill the tick and also keep it intact.
- If using tweezers, grip the tick as close to your dog’s skin as possible. Pull straight out from the tick in a slow, steady motion. The tick should pull fully off, but make sure that there isn’t any part of its body left on your dog, as this could still cause an infection.
- If using a tick remover, press it lightly against your dog’s skin near the tick and slide the notch under the tick. Keep sliding the notch until the tick is caught in the end of the notch and pulled free.
- If neither tweezers nor a tick remover are available, you can pull the tick out by hand. Like with the tweezers, simply pull straight out in a slow and steady motion. Make sure that you don’t squeeze the tick as you pull it out, as this might result in it injecting its venom into your dog.
- Of course you must clean your dog’s skin where the tick was attached and the tweezers or tick remover as well. You can use the isopropyl alcohol or any antiseptic for this. Wash your hands thoroughly and give your pup a treat!
- Proceeding, keep an eye out for symptoms of tick-borne disease such as:
- Skin irritation or a “bulls-eye rash”
- Signs or infection
- Loss of appetite
- Reluctance to move
- Swollen joints
- Swollen lymph nodes