Parasites are the bane of dogs’ and dog owners’ existence. They hurt the former, frustrate the latter, and cause nothing but problems for both.
Cause in point: finding a dried dead tick on a dog. If this has happened to your dog, you’ll want to rid your dog of this pest as soon as possible – and here’s how you can do just that.
Before we get into what to do, what not to do, and how you and your vet can rid your dog of ticks, it’s worth reviewing what these pests are in the first place. Ticks are a type of parasitic arachnid that latch onto animals and suck their blood. If that sounds like a mosquito, it’s worth noting that after mosquitoes, ticks are the most common bug for spreading disease.
Ticks vary greatly in terms of size, shape, and color, though they typically appear like small, flat ovals. Their size in particular can vary, with many ticks being as small as a seed when they aren’t feeding and swelling up several times their normal size when gorged on blood from their host. They often populate grassy fields and wait in these areas to latch onto hosts and start their feeding.
Ticks feed frequently upon their hosts, spend a lot of time breeding when they aren’t feeding, and can spread disease from one to another. When it comes to combatting disease transmission, time is of the essence. If you can remove a tick within the first 24 hours of the bite, the chances of avoiding the transmission of a disease such as Lyme disease in pets and humans is greatly increased.
How to Tell If Your Dog Has Ticks
Ticks can lie in wait in grassy fields, so it’s a good idea to check your dog for ticks after going for a walk with them. To do this, run your hands over their body checking for small bumps. Be aware that just because you don’t see ticks crawling along on the surface doesn’t mean they aren’t there, as they can sometimes crawl into a dog’s ears.
Some of the most common signs of a tick bite on dogs include bumps on their armpits, ears, feet, groin, and head. Symptoms that may indicate Lyme disease (one of the most common diseases transmitted by ticks) include fever, intermittent lameness, lethargy, joint pain, diminished appetite, and a bullseye-shaped rash around the eyes. If left undiagnosed, Lyme disease can cause serious problems, so be on the lookout for these symptoms.
We’ll get into how to treat dried dead ticks on dogs in a second, but it’s far easier to prevent tick infestations in the first place. The easiest way is to get a pest-resistant collar or an anti-tick/flea spray. Both of these are available for cats as well as dogs. The collars fit just like a regular collar and are typically effective for up to as much as eight months.
As for tick control sprays and substances, ask your vet which one they recommend for your dog. Vets will often be aware of diseases commonly carried by ticks in your area and thus what, if any, extra measures you’ll need to take to keep your pet safe.
If ticks are common in your yard, you’ll want to get rid of them via sprays and other methods that can treat your whole lawn and garden area at once. Be careful to make sure that doing so does not damage your greenery or inadvertently poison yourself or your dog. You can also trim your yard so it’s free of long tick-friendly grasses and rid it of wild animals.
What to Do
Every tick bite is different. Your dog may be running around as though it doesn’t even notice the dried dead tick on its body. It is worth noting that a dried dead tick is typically easier to remove than a live one since it isn’t alive and actively latching onto your dog. Alive or dead, however, you’ll first want to disinfect the affected area via rubbing alcohol.
Before removing the tick, you’ll want to make sure you have gloves, point-ended tweezers or a tick removal tool, a paper towel, and a small plastic bag or container. If the fur is thick in the area where the tick is, spread the hair apart so you can grip the tick firmly with the tweezers. Grab the tick by the body and tug it upward in a straight, gentle motion.
Be aware that even dried dead ticks can hold on tight, so this may take some time. Don’t rush if the tick doesn’t come off at first, and don’t panic. Small bits of skin can come loose as well, so be prepared to bandage and comfort your four-legged friend if this happens.
What Not to Do
While you may be understandably eager to rid your dog of a dried dead tick, you still need to take care not to act rashly. For example, while it should seem obvious, it apparently needs to be said – you should not try to burn a dried dead tick off of your dog’s fur. Chances are all you will accomplish is burning your poor dog.
In addition, you shouldn’t use petroleum jelly or nail polish remover. The latter in particular can result in accidentally removing your dog’s skin instead.
You’ll also want to avoid simply plucking the tick off with your fingers. Even though the tick is dried out and dead, it could still be attached firmly to your dog’s skin. Trying to yank it free could just cause the sucker to rip through their skin on its way out, causing your dog immense pain and leading to bleeding. Don’t just guess – ask a vet or follow instructional videos.
How Your Vet Can Help
If the tick does not come off after some time trying to remove it, do not force it, and don’t squash it. Doing so can cause whatever contaminants the tick may be carrying to be pressed into your dog’s bloodstream, which can make your dog sicker faster. Besides, this will not help your dog or remove the tick.
Instead, you’ll want to visit your vet. They can remove the tick for you with specialized equipment. In addition, they can review and test your dog to see if it has been infected with any diseases and, if so, will give you options for treatment. Vets can also prescribe collars and sprays for preventing ticks.
Take every precaution you can to prevent ticks from latching onto your dog. Dead and dried out or alive and sucking their blood, they are a huge and possible hazardous nuisance. If your dog is affected by one, however, a quick response and patience on your part can rid them of this parasitic problem and prevent them from “getting ticked off” in the future.