Removing Ticks from Dogs

Removing Ticks – how to spot them, remove them and what are the dangers?

The great countryside

With the better weather approaching, the opportunity to go for long walks with our furry friends in the countryside is welcoming.

Unfortunately, the better weather also brings with it some unwelcomed risks in the form of ticks awaiting to feed from our furry friends (as well as always happy to feed from a human too!). These unpleasant and blood-sucking creatures have the ability to spoil the end of a lovely day outdoors.

Ticks are closely related to spiders and are similar to them in that they do not jump or fly. They will wait attached to a blade of grass with their front legs reaching out for an opportunity to grab onto a warm animal passing by. They are brilliant at sensing heat and of course their survival depends upon them being successful and being able to gorge themselves on a passing opportunity.

Whilst such a happening can go relatively unnoticed and eventually having gorged on a good amount of blood the tick will release and drop off, it does have dangers associated with it. Indeed, it is estimated that around one third of dogs at any one time are carrying at least one tick in the UK! They also look disgusting and carry the dangers of transmitting diseases as well causing infection around the bite site. Whilst they can be hard to remove it is a job that cannot be put off. The longer a tick resides on your dog the greater the likelihood your dog could be feeling unwell either in the short term or in some cases in the long term too.

The dangers of ticks

There are many potential diseases that these little creatures can cause but Lyme disease is as much a major threat to dogs as it is to humans and is the one most people will think of. It is of course possible to die from Lyme Disease although I do not know any statistics on that and assume it is quite rare. I do personally know of someone who struggled for years after being infected with Lyme disease from a tick.

Try to give your dog a good look and feel over after their favourite walks in the countryside as the weather warms up. Anything that feels like a sesame seed up to a pea size (if the tick is engorged with blood) should be seriously looked at to check it isn’t one of these nasty creatures feeding off your dog. On the occasions where I have not spotted a tick for a while I have become suspicious there might be one as the dog would just seem to be quiet and not herself. From this I do assume that they really are not something to just leave and hope the best about.

How to remove ticks? (the hard part)

Removal of ticks gets easier with practice, but I have to admit the first one I came across was on my Golden Retriever, Roxy RIP, and resulted in a visit to the vet that evening. In trying to do my best with what I had I broke the little creature, leaving the head and what I describe as claws in my gorgeous Roxy. Removing a Tick without a decent removal tool for the task is not something I would recommend attempting. It is so worthwhile having a tick removal tool or two at hand as breaking the tick and then incurring a vet bill to get the rest of the ticks head out is not ideal.

Also, in my experience dogs with long hair like Golden Retrievers are more at risk to a tick making the transfer successfully onto them and staying hidden until such time as they reach the skin and under the cover of all that long hair make their invasion into the skin. My Beagle (lovely Luke) with much shorter hair never seemed to collect the same amount of Ticks.

Some places are worse than others; for instance, on our holidays in France (those were the days) it took Roxy no time at all to collect 10-20 ticks!!! In comparison the UK never seemed to present such a big issue although we live in Yorkshire and I suspect the problem may generally be worse in the South.

There are many Tick removal tools to choose from. The one I personally find is the easiest and with always a good outcome is the lasso type removal tools. You do not have to go too near the tick and the chances of any blood in the tick going back into your dog are minimised as a result.

Take a look at https://youtu.be/Q4-1xYl97gg

Although this is an old video it might be worth watching. It shows the technique for using a lasso tool for removing a tick. Obviously, things will not go quite as smoothly as your furry friend will be wondering what is going on – is it playtime they might be wondering. It is important to try to keep your dog as calm as possible for the few seconds of the “extraction”. Using a lickmat could be beneficial in keeping your pup focused on something else.

I do not feel the dogs seem to experience pain when the extraction takes place although it is hard to think they do not at least know about it!

The video also shows a half turn technique being used in the removal process to encourage the tick to release its bite, but many people say that no amount of twisting should be done. I have always found the slight twist to be successful but maybe I have just been lucky.

Some flea treatments will also discourage or kill ticks so it is worthwhile investigating in these if your dog is keen to go running in long grassy fields frequently (and for some dogs that is what life is all about!).

This may all sound very frightening to new dog owners, but it is almost certain at some stage your dog will get a tick and it is better to be aware of them and the way to remove them than risk illness, suffering and vet bills.

Thanks for reading and I hope it helps a few people.

Any questions, drop us a line!

Bernadett

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