Ticks love to hide in your pet’s fur but they can be dangerous to your dog or cat. Remove them quickly to help keep your pet safe. This guide will teach you the best way to get rid of ticks correctly and safely and how to prevent them around your yard.
How to Find Ticks on Dogs and Cats
Signs that your pet has been bitten by a tick
Look for unusual scratching or excessive licking of a certain area on your pet’s body—this might be a sign that they’ve been bitten by a tick. Ticks attach themselves to a dog or cat when they’ve brushed against them in a grassy or a wooded area. They bite and hold on to your pet, causing irritation. Some cats, especially, wander daily and should be examined every time they come home. Check your dog or cat as soon as you notice peculiar behavior to locate and remove the tick quickly.
Tick bites sometimes transmit bacteria that can cause health issues in a dog or cat. If your pet shows symptoms such as lethargy, fever or loss of appetite after they’ve been in a forest or similar area, they might have been bitten by a tick that you didn’t notice. Take them to a veterinarian to be examined for ticks and to be treated for any illnesses they might have picked up.
What do dog and cat ticks look like?
On short-haired pets, the tick might be visible as a tiny bump with eight legs. They’re usually either pale and transparent or dark reddish-brown with tiny, oval-shaped, flat bodies. If your dog or cat has long, thick fur, use a blow dryer on low to part their hair and inspect the skin beneath for an embedded tick.
Where to look for ticks
Your pet’s scratching will probably point you to the right area, but it’s important to check their whole body thoroughly. Ticks prefer dark, moist, and less visible places, such as ears, toes, armpits, tails, and eyes. Check those areas especially well by rubbing your hand slowly over all of their furs, searching for the tiny bump that will be the tick that’s bothering them.
How to Remove Ticks from a Dog or Cat:
It’s important to remove a tick as soon as possible. Don’t rush to pull it out with your fingers, though. Here are a few important tips for removing ticks safely and effectively.
What’s the best way to safely remove ticks from dogs and cats? Follow these steps:
1. Wear gloves to protect yourself from the tick.
2. Calm your pet with gentle words and a steady hand to help them stay still.
3. Use pointy, sharp-nosed tweezers (or a special tick-removal tool from a pet store) to grasp the tick.
4. Pinch the tick lightly enough to avoid crushing it and pull it out slowly until it releases.
5. Once you’ve removed it, put in in a jar or small container with rubbing alcohol to kill it.
6. Wash the tweezers and your hands with soap. Clean the bite area on your pet with an antiseptic spray or cream.
7. Give your pet a fun or tasty reward for their patience and courage during the procedure!
8. In the following weeks, watch out for any remaining irritation. If you notice anything, take your dog or cat to the vet for a check-up.
Even though you’re wearing gloves, don’t use your fingers to pull the tick out; you don’t want to crush or squeeze it accidentally. Many pet stores sell plastic, specially-shaped tick removal tools to make the process even easier. Sometimes, the tick’s mouthpart can get stuck in your pet’s skin after you’ve pulled its body away. Don’t worry: it should fall out on its own in a few days. However, if your pet still seems irritated by it or if it hasn’t fallen out after more than a week, you can have it removed by the vet.
Never apply chemicals, such as nail polish remover, to your cat’s or dog’s skin to try to kill the tick. Removal by hand with gloves is the only safe option. And you should never try to burn the tick: this is ineffective and dangerous to your pet. Though you might want to get it out of sight as quickly as possible, throwing it in the trash or sink won’t kill it. You can flush it in the toilet but the best method to kill ticks is to put them in a container with rubbing alcohol. It’s smart, though unpleasant, to store it in the alcohol until you’re sure your pet wasn’t affected. If there are symptoms, a vet can test the tick to diagnose more accurately and make treatment easier.
The Best Ways to Prevent Ticks
The best way to help keep your pet safe from ticks is to prevent them in the first place. You can try natural solutions to treat your yard and to protect your pet on walks. Feeding your dog or cat tiny amounts of apple cider vinegar helps to make their skin less appealing to ticks.
Keep your garden mowed, trimmed and clean. Spraying nematodes, which eat tick larvae, through a hose with water can act as a defensive layer against ticks. You can also sprinkle food-grade diatomaceous earth to kill ticks and fleas without being dangerous for your pets or other animals. Both nematodes and diatomaceous earth are available for purchase online.
Medicines and Treatments
Pet stores sell many over-the-counter treatments and specialty products for tick prevention. Topical medications are usually liquids that you apply to a specific area of your pet’s coat once a month to resist ticks. Once it’s applied, you must avoid touching the solution until it dries (and keep children away so that they don’t accidentally ingest it). Monthly pills are more convenient to use, but not every pet will swallow them. Never use medications intended for dogs on cats, or vice versa.
Anti-tick shampoos work to kill ticks on your dog’s skin but they’re more of a short-term treatment than monthly medicines. These shampoos also have to be repeated frequently. You can coat your pet’s fur with tick powders or sprays, but don’t use these around their face. A tick collar is more useful for protecting sensitive areas, but its range probably won’t cover the rest of your pet’s body.
Ticks are irritating to you and your pet but removing them is as simple as following the steps above. Help keep your dog or cat safe by removing ticks quickly and using treatments on their fur and in your yard to prevent them.
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