It is tiny annoying parasite season!!! If you have held off on flea and tick prevention for the last couple of months, the time to start thinking about it is now. Ticks are enjoying the spring weather as much as we are and they’re baaaaaaaaaaack.
Let’s hit some high points. Here are the major North Carolina culprits.
The American Dog Tick
The Brown Dog Tick
And my favorite....the Lone Star Tick
Identification is important, particularly down the road if your dog starts to show symptoms, but there’s so much conflicting information out there about which tick causes what that let’s just stick with one important point…..it should not be biting you or your dog! And if it does, get it off. Are you giving something to your dog that prevents ticks? Good! But you still need to check your dog, nothing is 100%. There's nothing worse than trying to get a tick out of your dog, you're panicking because you thought it was just a scab and then realized it had little crawly legs. You have no idea where your tweezers are and the last thing you want to do it squeeze this little critter so he bites your dog harder! I"m about to change your life.
This little handy fella is called a Tick Key. Think of it as the key to freedom from tiny parasite teeth. They sell them at most outdoor stores and of course online and they are very inexpensive AND worth every penny. I bought it about 4 years ago and it is so much easier than a pair of tweezers. Here’s how it works.... I have recruited my demo tick, a dried cranberry.
First place the large hole over the tick body with the skinny end pointing towards it’s head.
Press down towards the skin and slowly slide the Tick Key back towards you.
In other words, the teardrop in the tick key should be facing the same way as the tick, skinny end at the head and fat end around the body. Keep sliding while pressing down and the tick will be pulled out backwards. This is the best technique for making sure you get the whole bug...including his teeth and head. Feel free to discard in a small container filled with alcohol or soapy water. Just don’t forget to take a peek and see what kind of tick it was, in case you need to describe it later. Even better, take a picture.
We can’t talk about ticks and not talk about all the options out there for prevention. Talk to your vet, talk to your fellow dog owners and you can always ask us! But most important, be careful. Make sure you understand what you are giving and how much to give. Believe it or not, this happens all the time. Even though you think you know what you are doing, check again…..it could make your dog very ill.
- Use what works! If something works for your dog, use it. If it doesn’t, try something else.
- Give the right DOSE! All the products have different weight ranges, make sure you are giving your dog the correct dose for their weight.
- Know how long your prevention lasts! Is it one month? Three months? You could easily overdose your dog if you aren’t paying attention.
- Know what to do if they have a reaction! Some dogs may never have a problem with any preventative, but some may have a reaction. If your dog does have a problem, make sure you know what to do.
- Check your dog for ticks! Even if your dog is on preventative, check them anyway. You lower the risk of your dog getting a disease if you remove a tick quickly (within 24 hours). This goes for you too!
And finally, don’t forget to ask questions!
Cheers and Happy Hunting!
Katie Tick Pictures courtesy of CDC.gov