Despite the April’s Fools trick Mother Nature played on us, April usually means the start of tick season here in Minnesota. We recommend a variety of monthly preventatives based on your pet’s lifestyle, as well as the Lyme vaccination. But what happens when one of those buggers still gets through our best defenses?
Every time your pet goes out in tall grasses or wooded areas, a thorough search for ticks should be done as soon as you get home. Feel through the coat, making sure to check near face and ears, neck, armpits, groin, and even between toes as well as everywhere else. If the tick is not yet attached, removal is much easier and this prevents disease transmission.
If you find what you think are ticks, please ensure that it is a tick! Ticks can be black, brown, tan, or gray and should have 8 legs. Be sure you aren’t trying to remove a skin tag, nipple, or other growth; your dog won’t appreciate that! Ticks can be as small as the head of a pin, but when engorged can be up to the size of a dime or larger!
If you find a tick, you can try to remove it at home. Gloves are recommended as ticks can carry disease. A tweezers can be used to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible without actually grabbing the skin. A straight, steady motion should be used. Try to ensure the head and mouthparts came out with it. If parts are left behind, they can cause an infection, although the body will try to push this out on it’s own given time. Place the tick in rubbing alcohol to kill it, or stick it onto tape. Ticks inject a substance to keep the blood flowing, just like mosquitos, so it is not uncommon to feel a bump after you remove the tick.
There are tick removal tools available as well. Generally these have a slotted end where you push the tool flat against the skin and put the tick’s body in the slot and use it to gently pull the tick out.
We would be happy to remove the tick for you, or check the site if you are concerned with it’s appearance. We can also discuss tick borne illnesses and their symptoms if the tick was attached and engorged. Please give us a call if you have any questions or concerns!