April 27, 2016 Blog

What to Do if You Find a Tick on Your Dog

What to Do if You Find a Tick on Your Dog

Ticks on Your DogThe upcoming warmer weather brings out ticks. Hundreds of species of ticks exist, but only a few of them cause disease. Recently released information on Lyme disease causing Ixodes ticks indicates over the past 20 years the presence of these ticks has grown by 44.7% from 1,058 counties in the United States reporting the presence of Ixodes ticks to 1,420 counties. Recognition of a tick infestation on your dog, safely removing the ticks and protecting your dog against tick borne infections are all critical to keeping your dog healthy in the upcoming summer months.
Identify the Tick
Ticks are everywhere. When I Googled “ticks,” I found dozens of websites with photographs of ticks. The best websites were the city or state specific websites featuring the ticks of a particular geographic area. I live in New York City where the Department of Health website maintains pages with descriptions of the ticks found in New York City. New York State also has tick information. Similar information exists for many other locales in the country, but if your state doesn’t have a webpage, try the webpage of your closest college or university as their Department of Entymology may maintain a website of tick information for your area. If your search still turns up nothing, try the key word “medical entomology.” This is a fancy term for the study of disease-causing bugs. Identifying the tick will help you know if it is potentially a disease-causing tick.
Remove the Tick
Tick removal methods abound. But beware, many methods are more folklore than science and are unsafe. View a graphic from the New York State Department of Health on tick removal.
Tweezers will work to remove ticks, but there are also small devices which fit in a wallet that can facilitate tick removal. Don’t touch the tick once it is removed as the blood inside the tick may contain infectious agents. Dispose of the tick in the trash immediately. I would add to any tick removal protocol photographing the tick as close as your cell phone will allow. If your pet gets sick later on, you will have a ready record of the tick.
Prevent Tick Borne Illness
May 1st is Lyme Disease Awareness Day and a good day to check your supply of tick preventative medication for the upcoming summer months. If you need a refill of tick preventative medication, check with your veterinarian about the best type of preventative for your dog. Dogs can be vaccinated against Lyme disease and your veterinarian will make recommendation regarding the best approach for your dog. Keeping your backyard free of leaf litter and the grass cut short limits tick habitat slowing the growth of the tick population in your yard. The Centers for Disease Control has a comprehensive section of tick borne illness in both people and pets.

Tags: amcny, animal medical center, ann hohenhaus, CDC, department of health, dogs, illness, NYC, pets, ticks, veterinary,

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