As pet owners, we’ve all been there – you’re having a nice moment, petting your dog or cat and suddenly feel that horrible, creepy-crawly bump on their back. It’s a tick! What do you do?
Ticks have a way of striking fear into the hearts of pet owners and rightfully so. Those gross little creatures can be very harmful to your pet (and you). They spread disease, cause anemia and are down right annoying. So, it is very important to remove them as soon as possible. Here’s what you need to know to keep your pets safe:
Checking for Ticks
In Florida, tick season is year-round thanks to our warm, tropical climate. That is why pet owners must be diligent and check their pets for ticks every day. Simply brush your fingers through your pet’s fur, applying enough pressure to be able to feel any small bumps. Bumps may vary in size depending on how long they’ve been embedded, so you may feel a bump as small as a pinhead or as large as a grape.
It’s important to check your pet’s whole body including behind the ears, between toes, under armpits and around the tail and head. If you feel a bump, don’t panic. Pull the fur apart and see what’s there. Ticks are usually dark brown or black in color, or may be greyish-white if they’ve been feeding.
Removing ticks can be tricky. The operation must be delicate, as it is easy for a piece of an embedded tick to break off and remain under your pet’s skin. Whatever you do, never use a hot match, nail polish, petroleum jelly or any other product to attempt to remove a tick. These can cause serious harm to your pet and may incite an embedded tick to release more of their disease-carrying saliva.
To safely remove a tick, follow these simple steps:
- Using a pair of fine-tipped tweezers, grasp the tick very close to the skin.
- With a steady motion, pull the tick away from the skin. Be careful not to crush the tick to prevent infection.
- Once removed, clean your pet’s skin with soap and water. Get rid of the tick by placing it in alcohol or flushing it own the toilet.
Remember, when removing a tick always wear rubber gloves to protect yourself from possible injury and infection. Also keep in mind that if you find a tick on your pet, your whole family may be at risk of exposure, so take necessary measures to ensure everyone’s safety.
Protecting Your Pet
Fighting ticks is a year-round battle, but there are a few simple things that you can incorporate into your pet care routine that can help you win the battle.
- Keep things clean. Cleanliness is next to pestlessness. Keep your pet’s bedding clean as well as the areas of your home where your pet spends the most time.
- Keep your outdoor environment groomed. Ticks don’t like well-maintained lawns; they just can’t thrive in such clean, brush-free environments. Avoid over growth and ugly vegetation; that’s where the little blood-suckers like to hang out.
- Keep your pets away from undergrowth and overgrowth as much as possible. This includes such places like forests and meadows, which are full of ticks. If your pet does go into these environments, just remember to carefully check them for ticks after.
If you have any questions or concerns about your pet and tick exposure, be sure to consult your veterinarian.