Generally, tick season doesn’t “start” until early spring, but with the ever changing weather, experts are predicting that the flea and tick season may begin earlier than the normal May start date. In fact, according to the CDC, this upcoming tick season is slated to be the worst seen to date. While nobody likes to find bugs on their dogs, ticks are much worse than fleas in that they are carriers of Lyme disease. And, while death is not common in dogs diagnosed from Lyme disease, treating Lyme disease is often a costly and lengthy process.
Before you remove a tick, there are some do’s and don’ts that you should be aware of. For instance, do not assume that water will remove a tick. If you return home from your walk and put your dog into the bathtub for a bath, the water, even in warm to hot, will not kill the tick. Just as ticks survive in the outdoors through rain storms, it will live on your dog through a bath.
Do not “wash” ticks down the drain. Just as they can survive baths, ticks can survive the water you wash down the drain and can crawl back up the drain and into your home.
As soon as you are home, you should remove any of your dog’s clothing (and yours) and immediately put them into the dryer. Ticks cannot survive the heat of the dryer. Run the dryer for a bit, then you can throw them into the washer. After hikes, it’s always important to dry first, wash later.
Tick Removal Kit
First, before you leave your house for your walk or hike, you should have your “tick removal kit” handy and ready to go as soon as you return home. It is better to have your kit ready then coming home and running wild in your house trying to find all your materials. The items in your kit are relatively inexpensive so leaving them near your home’s entrance at all times shouldn’t pose any problems. And, yes, you should keep your tick removal kit ready at all times throughout the year. Even if you have one warm day in winter, you can be exposed to ticks, as evidenced by my wife finding a tick on her during the month of February in our home of upstate, New York.
Within your kit, you should have a white sheet or blanket. This can be a cheap, even used, sheet or blanket. The key is that it needs to be white in order to easily see any ticks that may happen to crawl off your dog and onto the floor.
Next, you will need a lint roller. Simply tear off a sheet and place it on the blanket near your dog sticky side up. This will be used to “hold” any ticks you may find on your dog. Since you only use a sheet at a time, this lint roller should last you for years to come!
The next item, a pair of tweezers, will be the item that you may want to invest the most money into, rather than buying the cheapest on the shelf. This is your most important tool when removing a tick. You need to have tweezer that both provides a good grip for your hand, but also provide a good grip on what they are being used to grab.
Finally, you will need a pair of scissors to cut up the lint roller sheet when you are finished. No matter the price of your scissors, as long as they cut easily, they will work!
How to Remove A Tick
As soon as you return home from your walk or hike, remove any and all clothing, harnesses or collars from your dog and throw them immediately into the dryer immediately. Again, the heat from your dryer will kill any ticks that may have clung onto your dog’s accessories.
Lay your white sheet or blanket on the floor and have your dog lay on the sheet. If you have a dog with high energy levels or a dog that doesn’t like to lay still for a period of time, you many need to ask a family member or friend to help keep your dog still. Pro Tip: Try giving your dog a chew toy (perhaps a Benebone) to help keep him occupied as you search for ticks.
Once your dog is laying on the sheet, you can begin to look for ticks. Begin by running your hands throughout the fur over the entire body of your dog. Often, you can feel a tick right away on your dog, as it will feel like a small bump on their skin. Once you’ve completed a initial check of your dog, you will want to go back though for a more detailed check. This should include separating the fur on your dog so that you can directly see his skin. Key areas to check are around the neck and belly areas of your dog.
If you happen to find a tick on your dog, do not panic! Stay calm so that your dog also stays calm, as dogs often pick up on the emotions that their humans are experiencing. Once you have the tick in clear sight, with the fur pulled back, grab your tweezers to begin removing the tick.
You will want to get the tweezers as close to the skin as possible so that you can remove the head of the tick with the body. Do not twist or rock the tweezers back and forth. Doing this will likely separate the body from the head of the tick. Once your have a deep, firm grip on the tick, you should pull straight up to remove it.
Sometimes, the body will separate from the head when removing the tick. Again, do not panic. If you are able to go back to the site and remove more of the head, begin to do so. If you cannot get any more of the head out of your dog’s skin, leave it be and let nature takes its course. Your dog’s skin will push the rest of the head out, however, if you ever have any concerns, it is best to call your Veterinarian for further instructions.
Once you have the tick removed, place it directly onto the sticky side of the lint roller sheet. This will keep the tick from crawling away while you finish checking over your dog. Please be aware that this will not kill the tick(s). Ticks can eventually unstick themselves and crawl off the paper. If you have questions about any ticks you found on your dog, you can put the lint roller sheet into a ziploc bag and take them to your Veterinarian for further inspection.
Otherwise, you can now grab your scissors and being cutting the lint roller sheet into pieces. Be sure to cut directly through any ticks contained on the lint roller sheet.
While there are many tick preventatives on the market for dogs, it is best to discuss these options with your Veterinarian to find what is best specifically for your dog. Even if your dog is on a preventative, it does not always repel the tick. The tick must bite your dog in order for the tick to die, but in order for Lyme disease to be passed onto your dog, the tick must bite your dog. Therefore, it is always better to be safe and err on the side of caution.
We would love to hear any tricks or tips you have for removing ticks from your dog. Please share your comments below on this blog post or post to Benebone’s Instagram, Twitter and/or Facebook accounts.