By Akinluyi Jerry (Epsd 7)
I share my life with many four-legged friends, owning several dogs and fostering at least 2 others at any given time.
My canine companions make up a huge part of my life so, naturally, I want to care for them… Ticks are bad news: They transmit several diseases that can cause severe illness and even death in both dogs and humans, so keeping your dog tick-free is a top priority.
Huge numbers of tick eggs hatch easily, and the young ticks climb onto grasses and other vegetation. Their sticky shells help them to cling to passing animals, including your adventurous pet dog.
Ticks quickly climb down the hair, attach to the skin, and begin to suck blood, only dropping off hours or days later when they are engorged. In the meantime, any microorganisms that were hitching a ride inside this insect traveler are transmitted to your dog through the tick’s mouth.
Keeping your dog as free of ticks as possible is always the safest bet not only for your dog, but for you as well. Here are some tick-prevention tips:
During the tick season (April through September), limit your dog’s exposure to known tick-infested areas. Ticks often hide in tall grasses and dense vegetation.
Use a tick preventive during this period. Several products on the market kill both fleas and ticks (and why not knock out both at the same time?). You can apply these products monthly to the skin at the back of your dog’s neck. I don’t want to mention product name to avoid advisement. You can consult me afterwards.
Examine your dog for ticks daily during tick season. If you suspect he has been romping in a tick-infested area, examine him for ticks immediately. Be sure to check inside and behind his ears and around his eyes, all favorite tick hiding places.
To remove a tick, follow these steps:
Use a pair of tweezers to grasp the head of the tick where it attaches to the skin.
Wear gloves if you plan to use your fingers to remove the tick.
Dab some disinfectant on your dog on the bitten area, being extremely careful if you’re around your dog’s eyes.
Kill the tick by placing it in alcohol.
Sprays. A bit more work, sprays require that you cover all areas of the body. Be careful around eyes and ears; it’s best to spray a cotton ball and dab the solution on those areas. How long the sprays remain effective varies, so read the label, and be sure to spray in a well-ventilated area. Active ingredients include pyrethrin or permethrin.
Powders. Easier than sprays but messy, to be sure. Not recommended for dogs that suffer from asthma. Again, read the directions carefully for how to apply and how long the powder remains effective. These contain pyrethrin.
Shampoos and dips. Shampoos and dips may have some residual benefit but are most often used for a dog already infested with ticks. Work up a good lather across the entire body, and leave it on for at least 10 minutes. To protect your dog, place cotton in his ears, and be very careful around the eyes. These contain pyrethrin.
Collars. Tick collars can be effective, but they may not be useful for a dog that likes to swim–they become less effective after getting wet. Read directions carefully to see how long the collar remains active. When fitting the collar, make sure it’s snug but with enough room to get two fingers between it and your pet’s neck. These typically contain carbamates and pyrethroids
Never remove a tick with your bare hands, and never crush a tick between your fingers. If you do, you put yourself at risk of contracting Lyme disease or one of the other tick-borne diseases.
If your dog becomes ill and you recently found a tick on him, seek veterinary attention immediately. Most tick-borne diseases can be treated successfully if a diagnosis is made immediately and appropriate treatment initiated. If the tick-borne organisms are allowed to gain a foothold, however, these bad bugs can cause serious illness or even death.
Any question should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @jerry_akinluyi
Watch out for the next episode of ‘Jerry and your dog’