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How to Check for Ticks!

Ticks are parasites that carry serious diseases like Lyme disease. In order to help prevent your pet from becoming infected, get into the habit of checking your dog for ticks every day.

Recognizing Ticks
Know the different types. The most common types of tick you may encounter when checking your pet are:

  • Deer Ticks, which range from lentil to beetle size, have black legs, a black thorax, a black head, and a tan colored body
  • Cattle Ticks, which are similar looking to Deer Ticks but instead have brown legs, and dark stripes on the underside of their tan bodies
  • American Levi Tick, which have a similar look to Cattle Ticks, but are more bean-shaped

Newly Acquired Ticks. A tick that has just made its way onto your pet may be quite small, almost flea like. If the tick has not attached to start feeding, you can simply catch and remove the tick as it crawls around. If the tick has started feeding, it will be attached to your pet and you will need to use the method outlined below to remove it.

Full Ticks. Full or feeding ticks look different as they become engorged with blood. Full ticks can appear as large as a bean or grape and may have a grey, red, or brown abdomen area.

Checking Your Pet
Be thorough. Before you start your search, make sure you have enough time to devote to it. You need to be thorough and meticulous, so it will take plenty of time. Although pets are more likely to have ticks on their head, legs, paws, and neck, every part of the pet needs to be checked.

Have gloves nearby. Lay some gloves nearby while you are checking your dog for ticks so you can use them if you find a tick. You don't want to deal with ticks without them since they are filled with blood. You could possibly get contaminated or bitten by the tick.

Use your fingertips to feel the skin. When checking your pet, rather than using your palm or full hand for checking the skin, use your fingertips. Fingertips are very sensitive and are good for detecting small anomalies.

Check the legs. When checking for ticks, it’s a good idea to start with your pet’s legs. Start at the paw, checking between the toes, on the underside of his paw, and between the pads of the feet. Check the leg making sure to feel all the way around as you go. Last, check under the armpit and around the shoulder before moving on to the next leg. When checking the back legs, make sure to also check the groin area.

Examine the flank. Once the legs have been checked, examine the flank. Feel along the sides, back and belly. Be sure to thoroughly check under the fur.

Check the face. Move your fingers along the neck and throat. Make sure to check under the collar. Next, check around and inside of the ears. Then, move your hand gently around his head checking around the eyes, lips and chin.

Use water. If you are having a hard time getting to your pet's skin, try using water to part your pet's fur. This is especially helpful if you find something you think might be a tick. Wet down the fur around the area to help you see the skin more clearly.

Removing ticks

Removing embedded ticks is a delicate operation because it’s easy for a piece of the tick to break off and remain in your pet’s skin if done improperly. Follow the removal steps below or consider bringing your pet to a veterinarian who can safely perform the task. Infection can occur after 24 hours, so if you find a tick on your pet, remove it right away. Always wear rubber gloves to protect yourself from possible injury or infection.

1.    Grasp the tick very close to the skin with a pair of fine-tipped tweezers.
2.    With a steady motion, pull the tick’s body away from the skin. Avoid crushing the tick to prevent infection.
3.    After removal, clean your pet’s skin with soap and warm water and dispose of the tick by placing it in alcohol or flushing it down the toilet.

Following these steps can help ensure the successful removal of ticks. Never use petroleum jelly, a hot match, nail polish or other products to remove a tick. Doing so can harm your pet and may cause an embedded tick to release more disease-carrying saliva.

Protecting Your Pet from Ticks

Apply anti-tick protection. In order to help your pet stay free from ticks, you should give tick preventative regularly. There are oral and topical preventions. Common treatments include shampoos, collars, ointments, and sprays. Make sure you keep up your regular tick checks even while using preventatives.

Clean your house. A good way to limit your pet's contact with ticks is to keep your house clean. If you dog happens to bring in a tick from outside that falls off before it can attach, it may end up on your furniture or on the carpet.

Avoid wooded areas. Ticks thrive in wooded and grown up areas, so avoid taking your pets to these areas. If you take your dog for a walk, keep him on a leash in order to prevent him from going in these areas. If you have a backyard, keep the grass cut and remove debris.

April is Lyme Prevention Month! Help protect your dog from Lyme disease by checking regularly for ticks and having your pet vaccinated. If you have questions about tick protection or removal or Lyme prevention give us a call at (540) 943-7577 or request an appointment online today!