Ticks and How to Remove Them From Your Dog

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What are Ticks?

Ticks are parasites that feed on warm-blooded creatures such as our pets and even ourselves. We have battled them for centuries and will continue to do so, but control and prevention of ticks is extremely important and reducing the risk of disease associated with these parasites. This includes removing the tick as soon as possible and trying to prevent attachment of the tick to the host. The first thing you should know about ticks is that they are not insects. They belong to the same family class as mites. They are divided into three different families. Only two of these families are present in the US, the Ixodidae, or hard tick, and the Argasidae, or the soft tick. With the hard tick there are about 60 different species that have been reported in the US, and with the soft tick family there are about 20 reported species in the US.

There are four stages in the life cycle of a tick. The egg, the larva, the nymph, and the adult. This life cycle can be completed within 2 months. The larvae, nymph and adults all feed on blood. After feeding, the tick falls from the feeding source and the larva will molt into the nymph, it will then molt into an adult and the female adults will lay eggs. Male ticks eat far less blood than females. Ticks find their prey by heat sensors, and they attach themselves. It will then migrate to an area that has little hair and starts feeding until the meal is complete. Afterwards, the adult female tick will find shelter and lay her eggs and die.

How to Safely Remove Ticks From Your Dog

To remove an attached tick, you will want to use first a pair of fine tip tweezers or special tick removal instrument. Is important that you do this because you do not want to crush the tick and force harmful bacteria to leave the tick and enter the pet?s bloodstream. Do not touch the tick since diseases can be transmitted by touch, always wear gloves. Grab the tick as close to the head as possible, do not grasp the tick by the body, without jerking pull firmly straight out from the skin. Do not twist it as you are pulling. Frequently pieces of the skin may come off with the tick. If the head of the tick remains in the skin, try to grab it with the tweezers and remove as much as possible. Although it is not life- threatening, if you are unable to remove the entire head at the bite site, your pet?s immune system will try to dislodge the head by creating a site of infection or even a small abscess. If you are concerned contact your family veterinarian. After removing the tick, place it in a jar of alcohol to kill it. Flushing them down the toilet will not kill them. Clean the bite area with a disinfectant and apply a small amount of a triple antibiotic ointment. Wash your hands thoroughly and check yourself to make sure that no ticks have found their way onto you during the process of removing the tick or ticks.

The Wrong Way to Remove Ticks.

Do not use your fingers to remove or dispose of the tick, as the contents of the tick can transmit disease. Once an embedded tick is manually removed, it is common for a welt or skin reaction to occur, a little hydrocortisone spray will help alleviate the irritation, but it may take a week or more for healing to take place. This skin irritation is due to the irritating and destructive tick saliva that is ejected into the skin once the tick feels the tweezers or the tick removal device touch them they will spit into the skin as a way to defend itself. The swelling that occurs after tick removal is due to toxic saliva not toxic heads.

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