It’s summer and that means it’s tick season. As pet owners we all know we should regularly check our cats and dogs for these nasty little bugs. That’s because some ticks – there are many different species – spread disease, while others can be fatal. When a tick attaches itself to the skin, it can inject infections and toxins that provoke allergic reactions into the body. So what should we do if we find one on our pets?
First of all you want to remove the tick as soon as possible. The best way is with a specially designed tick remover. You can pick up these from your vet or pet store. If you don’t have one, use tweezers. You’ll want to grip the tick as close to the skin as you can get. Get a good grip, then twist. This helps release the tick from the skin. It’s important that you do this without squeezing the tick’s body, as squeezing the body might inject even more of the nasty tick toxins or infections into the pet. Check that the tick’s mouth and head are removed – if you can’t get all of the tick, get your pet to the vet straight away.
Once you are confident you have most of the tick out, check the rest of your pet’s body for any others. Don’t forget to look between you pet’s toes and in his ears and mouth.
Take a look at the tick to find out if it is a paralysis tick. And keep it in a jar so you can show your vet. Paralysis ticks have eight tiny legs near the front of their bodies. If you suspect that it might be a paralysis tick, get your pet straight to the vet.
If you don’t think it is a paralysis tick, clean the area and watch for signs of infection on the skin – if the area stays red and inflamed, get your pet to the vet.
Even if all seems well with your pet, keep a close eye him, and it’s worth calling your vet even if your pet seems fine. Your vet might recommend bringing him in anyway.
The best way to treat ticks is to avoid them in the first place, so protect your pet with a tick and flea treatment. Spot-on treatments and monthly tablets work really well for dogs, while for cats you can use a topical spray. And finally, keep them away from bushy areas where you know or suspect they might pick up ticks.