Mom and I went on a big hike last week! We had a fabulous walk on a local trail with lots of trees. I had the zoomies and ran in and out of the bushes, happily wagging my tail. Mom had to keep calling me back because I wandered off the path a few times. Little did I know that a bloodthirsty tick would hitch a ride home with me in my fur. Ewww!
When we got home, my dad started checking me all over. I had no idea why he was inspecting between my toes, all around my face and ears, in my armpits and groin area, and pretty much every place in between. He found a tick burrowed into the skin just behind my ear. Yikes! Unfortunately, it's often easiest to find a tick when it has already latched on. But by that time it is much harder to get rid of that bugger.
My nemesis, Monkey, the cat, tried to play with the tick. Blecch!
"Gus", Dad told me, "We're going to have to do a little "operation" to remove this tick from you. When we're done, I'm going to give you a nice big treat."
I don't know what "operation" means, so I wasn't scared, especially since I heard the word "treat" in the same sentence! I got a little anxious when Mom pulled on her big yellow gloves.
Turns out, the "operation" includes some tweezers and A LOT of pulling. That nasty little tick had already stuck its head under my skin, so Mom used the tweezers to gently grasp the tick by the head, not the body. She pulled straight outward - though occasionally vets recommend twisting clockwise. Next she dunked the tick in rubbing alcohol and flushed it down the toilet. Monkey just sat like a dummy and supervised the whole thing.
I think Mom was trying to distract me from the "operation" because she started telling me that ticks are bad for people too!
"Gus", she said, "Ticks are not only dangerous for you, but also for me and Dad and Monkey. Besides the fact that ticks are gross, the main problem with ticks is that they can transmit diseases, including Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, and, in the case of the female wood tick, something called tick paralysis." I wonder what paralysis is...
She told me that even the blood of a tick can be dangerous, so she can't crush it between her fingers. That's why she wore her yellow gloves to remove it from my ear. And ticks are so nasty, that they won't even drown when you toss them into water! What the hekk??
You have to put a tick in rubbing alcohol, then flush it down the toilet. Then she washed my bed, which I was pretty upset about, since it smells like dirt and sweat and branches, and well... me! But Mom told me she has to make sure there are not other ticks taking naps in my bed.
Luckily, ticks, unlike fleas, usually don't spread beyond me or my bed. But since they are dangerous to Mom and Dad and even that crafty, old Monkey, we're not taking any chances! I can make my bed smell good again.
Random facts about ticks
- Ticks can start out as very small black dots, about the size of the head of a pin, or they can be larger and more easily seen, about half the size of a ladybug.
- When engorged with blood, the tick's body swells and it holds firmly to a dog's skin.
- If the head remains in the skin, you may be able to remove it with the tweezers. If not, it will likely come out on its own, but you should check with your vet for advice on whether to try to remove it or simply leave it and watch for signs of infection.
- Ticks can feed on hosts' blood for a few hours or a few weeks, then drop off to lay thousands of eggs.
- Most ticks present a higher risk during warmer months, but they're a year-round threat in many places.
Monkey's Tick Removal & Prevention Tips
- Bathe your dog with a tick shampoo that contains medicated ingredients, which ticks hate.
- Use a tick dip. This is a concentrated chemical that must be diluted in water and applied to your pet's fur with a sponge or poured over their back.
- To remove a tick, apply a drop or two of Neem oil directly on the tick and it will extract itself quickly.
- Sponge on apple cider vinegar to remove and kill ticks.
- Get a tick collar to keep those ticks off dogs when you go for outdoor adventures with them.
And most importantly... get some help remembering your routine! Mom uses the Scollar mobile app. The app is so smart that it let's mom know when fleas are becoming a problem where we live. Even better... the app suggests the best treatment for me and sends it right to our house! Mom is so happy now!
You can get it here!