by Lauren R. Tharp
When I say “tick,” a few of you may think of the bumbling blue superhero; however, for most dog owners, the word “tick” means trouble. Ticks emerge in Spring and stick around until Fall, lurking in tall grass, waiting to suck the blood of your unsuspecting pup.
What is a Tick?
Ticks are small, horrible, real-life monsters who only live to destroy the lives of others. In more technical terms, ticks are arachnids (like mites) who are parasitic (meaning they suck blood to survive).
Where Do Ticks Hide?
Ticks hide in areas that are filled with damp vegetation, usually tall grasses. There also must be a high population of “host” animals (you and your dog!) in the area. In Florida, they particularly like Mexican Petunias and shrubs with low hanging branches.
Ticks aren’t especially picky about their habitat. As long as the two requirements mentioned above are met, ticks will live and thrive in an area for a very long time.
How Do Ticks Harm My Dog?
Ticks suck blood. These little vampires latch onto your dogs flesh, cut a hole in their skin, and insert their hypostome (a harpoon-like “tooth” that anchors them in place so that nothing can budge them while they’re sucking your pup’s blood). From there, they suck your dog’s blood, while pumping an anti-coagulant into your dog’s blood stream (so that the hole they cut into your dog’s skin can never properly heal).
And if all that wasn’t enough, ticks can also transfer diseases or use your dog as a breeding ground for their eggs!
For most of us, some kind of tick control is necessary, whether you opt for one of the commonly known brands like Frontline, or a holistic remedy you and your dog are going to need protection. Talk to your Veterinarian and do some research, whichever route you choose, you’ll want to be diligent about application.
If your dog does get a tick attached to his flesh, here are the 4 steps to remove it:
1. Use tweezers if possible!. And wear gloves if you have them. Grab hold of the tick as close to your dog’s skin as possible. But grab it gently; crushing the tick could cause infection (it could also make it harder to remove).
2. Pull the tick slowly out of your dog’s skin. Be patient. Doing this correctly could take half a minute or longer. You don’t want to yank the tick or it could break, leaving its head or hypostome (remember that thing?) inside your poor dog.
3. Once is the tick is removed, drown it in alcohol (the rubbing kind, not your Peppermint Schnapps…though that would probably work too), make sure it’s dead, and place it in a baggie with the date on it. Why save the tick in a bag? If your dog becomes ill, you may need to present the tick to your vet. Needless to say, if your dog shows no unusual symptoms after a few days, you’re free to throw the nasty little bugger away.
4. Rub some disinfectant onto your dog on the place where you removed the tick. Original (no flavor) Listerine works well for this as it’s safe for your doggie to lick.
Note: Never, ever, handle a tick with your bare hands and NEVER try to crush the tick with your fingers.
Good luck and be careful!