Well, it happened, despite my efforts to keep ticks off of Sherman and Leroy, one crawled onto Leroy and attached itself to his skin.
I noticed it Monday morning when he came by for his morning scratches.
I felt it, quickly removed my hand from his body and jumped up off the couch.
I was really hoping that it was just a burr but as soon as I relocated the bump and parted the hair I saw the disgusting bloodsucking tick and I immediately was overcome with the hibbie jibbies.
I went to the bathroom and grabbed my tweezers, a small plastic cup, and the rubbing alcohol.
The tick was engorged so it had been there for a few days and it was located on his left side towards the top of his left hip.
It was an odd spot for a tick since the hair is so thick in that area and I stared at it for a few seconds planning my attack.
Since the tick was buried in his skin all I could see was the disgusting blood filled body and little legs moving.
I went down low with the tweezers, made sure I had a good grip and pulled up.
I submerged the body in rubbing alcohol, cleaned the bite area on Leroy and then went to try and determine what type of tick species it was.
With my years of experience as a vet tech I’m usually pretty good at identifying ticks.
The most common ones we see in this area are the black-legged ticks and that’s the only species that I’ve ever found on Leroy or Sherman in the last 5 years.
This one wasn’t a black-legged tick and it was throwing me for a loop.
I looked up pictures online and sent the picture off to a few friends in hopes that someone could identify it.
I was thinking American Dog Tick or Brown Dog Tick and leaning more towards the Brown Dog Tick due to similar images that I’ve seen.
It concerned me that it was a Brown Dog Tick because while those are seen in Ohio, they aren’t common.
My friends were of no help and just sent back the puking emoji so I found a place online where I could submit the photo for identification.
It took less than 12 hours and I received a response back that it was a female American Dog Tick.
American Dog Ticks do not transmit Lymes Disease but they can transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and tularemia. In addition, American dog ticks can cause tick paralysis, which can lead to severe respiratory distress and muscle weakness in those affected.
The fact that this was a female concerns me a little bit also but thankfully it didn’t fall off in the house and lay 6,000 eggs.
I follow a pretty good protocol when it comes to ticks by reducing the dog’s exposure to ticks, but I do have room for improvement so I thought that I would share a few simple tips that might help us all prepare for those unfortunate times that we find a tick on our dog.
When you find a tick on your dog
Remain calm. I have a tendency to panic first and respond second.
I can often be found running around the house with my arms flailing grabbing my supplies and this type of action isn’t helping anyone.
Remove the tick as soon as it is found on your dog
The longer the tick is attached to your dog, the greater the risk of it transmitting disease.
If you’re not comfortable removing the tick, call your veterinarian as see if they can fit you as soon as possible.
Have a tick kit!
It’s important to remove a tick as soon as possible so if you have a pre-planned tick kit all you have to is grab the kit!
A tick kit should include tweezers or a tick remover, rubbing alcohol, plastic bag or empty pill vial, cotton balls and antibiotic ointment.
You can also include latex gloves and a sheet of white paper or an index card.
Remove the tick properly.
The proper way to remove a tick from a dog is to use tweezers or a tick remover, grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull up quickly and all in one motion.
Do not try to burn the tick or try to smother it. This is dangerous for the dog and the tick will take longer to detach.
Once you remove the tick you’ll want to clean the area with warm soap and water or alcohol and apply an antibiotic cream if you have one.
Mark the spot
It’s a good idea to keep an eye on the area where the tick was removed from your dog for at least several weeks.
I like to trim the hair around the area of the tick bite.
This way I can find it easy and if I need to have the vet take a look at it for any reason, it’s easy for them to find too.
You’ll want to watch the spot for any oozing, rashes or swelling.
Take a picture of the tick found on your dog
If you’re unsure on which type of tick you’ve removed from your dog, take a picture.
You can send the picture to your vet or there are tick identification sites that you can email the picture to and get it identified.
I sent a picture of our tick to TickEncounters at The University of Rhode Island.
I received a response back in less than 12 hours and they said what tick it was, what diseases it could carry and what to watch out for.
It’s a really great free service!
Tips on taking a picture of tick:
Place the tick on a white piece of paper or index card and snap a cell phone picture outside.
Lighting is key so the tick can be identified properly.
I had to take my picture more than once and when I picked the dead tick up out of the container I squeezed it a little too hard with the tweezers and it spit blood out.
If the tick is still alive you can use a piece of tape to hold it in place. I prefer to take pictures of our ticks when they’re dead.
Send the tick out
If you’re worried about your dog getting sick from the tick bite you can sens it off to be tested.
There’s usually a fee for this service and the drawbacks can be that you’ll get sick before you get the results back or the tests can give false positives according to the CDC.
If you’re not going to send the tick out you might want to keep it on hand for a few days or even a few weeks in case your dog shows sign of being sick.
I store our ticks in alcohol in a pill vial but you can also use a sealed plastic bag. Some people also tape it to an index card and they write the date that the tick was removed on the card.
If you want to dispose of the tick it’s recommended to flush it down the toilet
Find the source of the ticks
Where did your dog get the tick from?
Did they pick it up on a walk?
From your yard?
I retraced our steps when I found the tick on Leroy.
Based on where it was and how engorged it was and the fact that I haven’t found any ticks on Sherman, I’m 90% sure it came from our walk.
I can picture Leroy walking through a low hanging weed bush and that’s probably where the tick came from.
Things you should keep in mind when you find a tick on your dog:
Ticks can be found on any dog
Ticks don’t care what their host is as long as they can feed on it. They don’t pick and choose dogs. If a dog walks by they grab on.
Some people think that dogs with thick coats can’t get a tick. Many Newfoundland dogs have proved that theory wrong.
Ticks don’t fall from trees or bushes, they grab on with their gross legs when a host walks by.
No area is safe
They say that ticks like to hide out on dogs where the hair is thinner such as by the ears, under the front legs and one the inner part of the thighs.
I have never found a tick in those areas.
I’ve found ticks on the muzzle area, chest back, and side.
No tick product is 100% effective
There is no tick product on the market that is 100% effective, they are usually 99.9% effective or less.
This means that no matter what product you’re using there’s a chance that you may still find a tick on your dog at some point.
Many ticks products, especially oral and some topicals, do not repel ticks but they kill ticks when they latch on.
We’ve used the Seresto collar for the past 4 years with pretty good success and I’m sticking with it even though Leroy had a tick.
What I am going to do is add more protection through repellents.
Multiple tick checks should be done
This is where I failed.
I should have been checking Leroy more frequently and I wasn’t.
I was checking him about once a week and seeing as this tick was attached for about 4-5 days I should definitely increase my ticks to every day or at least every other day.
The killer on this particular tick incidence was that I was line combing him in this area the other night and I didn’t see it. It was there, I just missed it.
How to check for ticks on your dog
There are many ways you can check for ticks in dogs such as daily combing, line combing for those double coated breeds, dry blasting with a dog dryer after walks, and even simple petting making sure that you’re covering every area of the dog.
Using a lint roller over the coat after walks is a great way to get ticks that haven’t attached yet. The ticks are usually trying to climb up so pay attention to the belly, legs, tail, and side of a dog.
For some of us, ticks are going to be inevitable this year and the best prevention is going to be being one step of the ticks and being vigilant in checking our dogs.
- Rubbing alcohol
- Locate the tick on your dog
- Part the hair so you have a clear path to the tick
- Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible
- Without twisting gently pull the tweezer straight up
- Place the tick in small leak proof container that has alcohol or flush it down the toilet
- Clean the area with rubbing alcohol or warm soap and water
- Wash your hands
- If you're unsure of what type of tick species it is, take a picture of the tick outside on a white piece of paper and send the picture off for identification.
- Check the dog for more ticks
- Monitor the site of the tick bite for several days.
If you have latex gloves on hand you can wear those when dealing with the tick
Clip the hair around the tick bite so you can easily find it.
Optional- Apply antibiotic cream or ointment to the area of the tick bite
Do not try to suffocate the tick with Vaseline or burn the tick.