Whatever you do, don’t yank that pesky tick straight out of your dog! It might seem like the obvious thing to do especially if your dog is agitated, but pulling a tick straight out can cause the head to detach, which can lead to more irritation and increases the risk of disease transmission.
This may sound horrible, but it’s a common problem during spring and summer. Our head nurse Louise Taylor explains:
What you need to know about ticks:
- Ticks mostly live in woodland, long grasses and fields, more so where sheep or deer graze. Although most prevalent in spring and summer, they can be problematic throughout the year in some areas.
- Ticks can vary but are typically small, oval & flat. Unfed they’re about the size of a sesame seed and can swell to coffee bean size after a feast of blood.
- They latch onto pets (and people) by inserting their mouthparts into the skin to suck blood. Many produce a sticky glue-like substance to stay attached.
- A tick bite can cause irritation, as well as anaemia and temporary paralysis in rare cases. Ticks can also spread lyme disease, which affects humans too. Left untreated, lyme disease can lead to a serious, debilitating chronic illness with complications for life. Headaches are a common initial symptom in humans.
How to tell if your dog has been bitten by a tick:
After walks, check your dog all over for ticks (they’ll feel like small bumps), especially under the tummy, armpits, ears, head, neck, groin and feet. Your dog might:
- Be excessively scratching or biting at an area, or shaking their head.
- Have an initial ‘bullseye’ rash around the bite site.
- Have intermittent lameness.
- Show fever or lethargy.
To remove a tick safely you’ll need a tick removal tool that’s been specially designed to help you perform the necessary motion needed to get it out in one piece. These tools typically come in a pack of two sizes and can be purchased from most vet practices, pet stores, and some online retailers. Louise recommends having a set in your pet first aid kit, and even your handbag and car.
The longer the tick is in your pet, the bigger the risk of disease transmission.
If you’re struggling to get it out yourself, contact our nursing team for advice.