NDSU Extension Service - Burleigh County

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Tick Detection and Removal on Your Pets

It is important to check pets regularly for ticks during the spring and summer. Since ticks can feed anywhere on the body, run your fingers through the animal’s coat, feeling for ticks over the entire body. The size of a tick can vary greatly depending on how long it has been attached. Fully blood fed ticks can expand to the size of a grape.

sad dogIf you find an attached tick, grasp it with fine-tipped tweezers as close to the surface of the skin as possible and pull upward using slow, steady, even pressure until the tick is dislodged. Hasty removal of an attached tick can break off the mouthparts and lead to prolonged inflammation, irritation, and possibly secondary infection. Do not use other methods of tick removal (e.g., petroleum jelly to suffocate the tick, heat from matches or rubbing alcohol to make the tick back out) as they are ineffective and may be harmful to your pet. Be careful not to squeeze or puncture the tick’s body because its fluids may contain infectious organisms.

Thoroughly disinfect the bite wound with iodine scrub, rubbing alcohol, or soap and water. Save the tick in a container in the freezer so that it can be identified and/or tested for a disease in the event your pet becomes sick. A sick pet that has recently been exposed to or infested with ticks should be seen by your veterinarian.

In order to prevent or control ticks, pesticides that are used to repel or kill ticks are called acaricides. They can be applied as topical treatments, shampoos, or plastic collars embedded with a pesticide. Some companion animals may be sensitive to or harmed by certain chemicals contained in these products.

It is important for the pet owners to carefully read and understand the product label to determine whether the product is intended for use on dogs and/or cats, what the correct dosage is, at what age you can safely apply the product to your pet, and how often the product should be applied. If you are unfamiliar with selection and application of these products, you should consult your veterinarian.

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