Keeping Ticks Off Dogs

When heading out to the local park, trails, or other outdoor areas, it is important for dog owners to be aware of ticks, which are most common in San Diego County from November to April.

In addition to causing irritation, ticks transmit serious diseases including Lyme disease and tularemia, which can affect a person or animal’s health for months or even years.  According to the Director of San Diego County Department of Environmental Health, Gary Erbeck, people who visit grassy, brushy, or wooded areas with their dogs should take special care to avoid picking up ticks.

Prevention Tips: Keeping ticks off your dog and yourself

  • Use tick prevention treatments. Many topical treatments are available to prevent ticks from biting or getting on your dog in the first place.  These tick prevention treatments must be administered prior to tick exposure and many are available as a once a month treatment.  Ointments, powers, sprays, and other tick treatments are also available, with varying degrees of effectiveness.  Talk with your vet or one of our dog experts at Absolute K9 to determine the most effective and convenient tick prevention treatment for your dog. 
  • Stay on the Trail. When you are out on a trail with your dog, stay toward the center of a wide marked trail and avoid grassy, brushy, or wooded areas where ticks most often dwell.  It is important to keep your dog on a leash to prevent him or her from straying off the path into tick territory. 
  • Check for ticks often. If you are in an area where ticks are known to seek out fresh prey, check yourself, your companions and your dog often for ticks.  You can brush over your dog’s coat with a flea or tick comb or just closely inspect the entire body, parting the coat all the way to the skin to look for ticks.  If you find one, remove the tick immediately by grasping the tick’s head with tweezers and firmly pulling straight out from the body.  Clean the area with an antiseptic. 
  • Backyard Prevention. If you have a backyard environment favored by ticks, make sure to keep your grass and weeds cut low and make your yard uninviting to rodents, which ticks like to bite, by keeping lids on trashcans and clearing out rock piles and brushy cover.
  • Avoid household exposure. If you have taken your dog to an area with possible tick exposure, do not bring your dog into the house until you have thoroughly checked him or her for ticks.  Ticks can jump off your dog to other pets, your family, or into the carpet or furniture. 

What to do if you find a tick on your dog

The most important thing to remember is that you must remove the entire body of the tick as soon as possible to reduce the risk of injury or illness caused by these pesky insects.  To remove the entire body of a tick you can use a tick scoop, available at pet stores, or you can use tweezers, grasping the tick’s head as close to the skin as possible and firmly but smoothly pulling it straight out from the area.  (Note: some people recommend against using tweezers for the risk of breaking the tick in the skin.  You can also use clean and disinfected fingers to do the same action).

Do not twist, squeeze, or jerk the tick because that may cause the tick to break, leaving the mouth or head of the tick still lodged onto the skin.  Remaining parts of a tick must be removed or they can cause infection.  If the head does break off, you can use a sterile needle to remove the head much as you would remove a splinter from under the skin.  Be sure to wash and disinfect the bite area and your hands with antiseptic wash and apply antibiotic ointment to the bite site.

Do not apply heat via a lit match or lighter to the tick.  Not only has this been found ineffective, it can cause serious burn injuries to you and your dog.  Ticks do not drown in water, but they do drown in rubbing alcohol.  Do not crush a tick, as that can release disease.

If you have any questions about ticks or tick prevention in San Diego, contact our animal experts at Absolute K9 today.

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