Ticks and the removal of ticks

Every year we get many pets come through our doors with skin problems. The most common causes of these issues are fleas.   Another problem we regularly see is ticks

Now the weather is warmer and days are longer, there is a good chance you and your dog will be out in the parks, fields and countryside.  These are perfect places to find ticks.  Ticks are blood sucking parasites which live off the blood of mammals. They mostly live in damp areas on plants and climb onto animals (also humans) when they need to feed.   When a tick has climbed onto the animal it will attach its mouth parts into the skin and start to feed on blood.  The tick will remain there for several hours or even days until it has had enough.

Ticks like to attach themselves into crevices or onto places that have very little hair.  If your pet has a tick you will most likely find them behind ears, the inside legs (where the leg meets the body), in between the toes and folds of skin.  When a tick attaches itself it will be about the size of a pin head. However, once they start feeding they can grow to the size of a pea.  This is when people start to notice them. However, many pet owners mistake the tick for a wart or growth.

Is a tick harmful to my pet?

If there is a tick feeding on your pet the surrounding skin can become irritated and sore. The skin can also become infected.  Ticks can carry diseases such as Lyme Disease, which is caused by bacteria in the blood. Luckily Lyme disease is uncommon in this area.  Symptoms of Lyme Disease are:

They may have difficulty walking due to stiffness or inflammation of joints

They are sensitive to touch

They may have difficulty breathing

They may have a fever, lack of appetite or depression.

In rare cases there could be problems with heart abnormalities and the nervous system.

If your pet shows any of these symptoms please consult your vet immediately.

How to remove a tick

The easiest way safely remove a tick is to see your vet. They will be able to give you a spray or a spot on solution which will kill it or they can safely remove them for you. Once they die they will drop off. However, if you want to do it yourself you need to make sure you do it properly.  Don’t listen to old wives tales about suffocating ticks in butter or burning them off with a cigarette.  Also, you can’t just pull them off willy nilly as you run the risk of leaving the head and mouth parts under the skin.  This can cause a foreign body reaction and require surgery to treat.

If you are going to remove a tick, firstly, we suggest you wear latex gloves to protect yourself from any infection the tick is carrying.  A good tool to use is a “Tick Twister”. You can get these from your vet.  These are small plastic picks which slides between the body of the tick and the animal.  You will then be able to twist the tick and remove it from your pet’s skin in one piece.  If you do not have a “Tick Twister” you can use a pair of blunt tweezers. However, you have to be careful not to squeeze the tick too hard as it can kill the tick and leave the head under the skin.  Once the tick has been removed, clean the skin and any soreness or redness should go after a couple of days. If after a couple of days the skin has not improved, or has started to weep, take your pet to see the vet.

If you have any questions regarding this subject you can call us at the clinic or leave a comment on our Facebook page (click HERE)