What to do when you find ticks on your dog!   

First! Don’t panic! Second, the ewww factor is off the charts.   

So we spent a few days in Idaho visiting a friend. Their property borders right up to the Boise river. The girls had the best time! They ran in and out of the water and had a few acres to run and sniff wherever they wanted. They had an awesome few days!   

Not one time did it occur to me to check them for bugs.   

I know better. I should have had them in a tick collar, and I should have sprayed them with Wondercide daily. But for some reason it did not even cross my mind that ticks would be a problem.    

After a wonderful visit we headed home. We were home a couple of days before I realized there was a problem. Ava Jane was laying on her side and I saw something that looked like a coca burr. Seriously, it was that big.  I went to go pull it out of her fur and it took me a minute to fully comprehend why it wasn’t coming out.    

Once I realized what it was, I did one of those yuck, yuck, yuck dances…. you know the one.    

I have never had to remove a tick from anything before, so I had no clue what to do. I did a quick google and found a how to on You-Tube. Let’s just say, the tick they removed wasn’t near as big as the one I was going to have to remove.   

Luckily, I had a tick remover tool at the shop, so I ran in and grabbed it. This tool definitely makes it easier to remove the tick than using tweezers. But, let’s be honest, I’m not going to use my good tweezers anyway.   

I recommend gathering all your tools together, so you have everything on hand. In my pile I had the following:    

Tick remover tool, plastic sandwich bag or small jar with a lid (fill with rubbing alcohol), cotton balls, hydrogen peroxide and gloves.   

The tick remover tool allows you to get close to the skin and with soft, constant pressure, you’ll pull the tick away from the skin and wait for the tick to release. Make sure to double check that same area because I almost always found much smaller ticks hanging out with the one removed.    

Once you remove the tick, you’ll want to make sure it’s secured in the plastic bag or jar. Then you’ll clean the area with a cotton ball soaked in hydrogen peroxide. Double check the tick to see if it’s still alive, that way you know you didn’t leave anything behind.   

The next step is to check your dog for more, and trust me, there are more. Continue to remove them as you find them. Check everywhere, behind ears, the collar area, neck, under their armpits, belly, sides, back and tail.   

And if you have more than one dog like me, you need to check them too…sure enough, all three girls had them! Ugh, it was terrible and gross. All in all, around 25 ticks were removed total.   

To be safe, I took them to our groomer. I would highly recommend this! Even after us searching for more ticks, our groomer found even more ticks on all the girls and removed them.    

Now, in the meantime I am starting to panic thinking my dogs were going to be sick and what do I need to do. So, I called our vet. We spent some time talking about it and she was so patient with all my questions and in the end she set my mind at ease! It turns out it takes 30 days for any tick diseases to show up in our dogs. So, it’s a wait and see game.    

After all of the researching and talking with our vet, here is what I know about ticks.   

The old wife’s tale of smothering with liquid dish soap or petroleum jelly or using heat on the tick will actually cause the tick to vomit and that’s why they release so easily. We don’t want them vomiting their toxins into our dogs because that increases the chance of any diseases they have transferring to your dog. It is much better to just pull them off. Yes, I know it’s yucky, but you gotta do it!   

Worried about getting “all of it” or “leaving the head in” – don’t be. First of all, if the legs are moving then it’s still alive and nothing has been left behind. Ticks use an anticoagulant to stop blood clotting so they can have an unending supply of blood. When you pull the tick off, what you see left behind is an inflammatory response caused by the anticoagulant. This can also cause a bump and is why people think the head was left behind.   

After you have pulled off the ticks and cleaned all the bite sites, you’ll want to keep an eye out for lethargy, lameness or anything that suggests your dog isn’t being their normal happy self. Since it can take up to 30 days before any of the tick diseases show up in the blood, there is really nothing your vet can do immediately.   

I also recommend spraying all their bedding, or anywhere that they have been or hang out with Wondercide and then wash everything you can in hot water. I love Wondercide because it is safe for pets, children and adults and it smells nice. You can spray it on the dog, carpet, furniture, anything the dog was near, and it will kill the adults and their eggs, preventing reinfestation.    

Next, you’ll want to make sure they have a tick collar when going into any potential area where there might be ticks. You all know me, I do not like anything toxic or even remotely unsafe for dogs or cats. I love Earth Animal’s flea and tick collars. They are natural and work. Each collar is good for 3 months. They also have the spot flea and tick treatment and come in a 3 pack, so it’s applied monthly. Earth Animal also has an herbal bug spray (repels mosquitos, ticks and flies!) that smells great and is not only great for your dog, you can also use it on you and your family!    

I never want to go through this again, so my girls will not only get tick collars when we travel, they will get a daily spray with Wondercide just in case.