Did you hear the latest news about a tick bite that paralyzed a couple’s dog after a camping trip in Boulder County? What if this happened to your dog? Dogs can get ticks when walking in the woods or through high grasses. They lie and wait.
Ticks transmit many parasitic, bacterial, viral and other diseases, such as Lyme disease, among animals and from animals to humans. The salivary secretions of some female ticks are toxic and can produce a syndrome known as “tick paralysis” in people and animals. So ticks are to blame for this incident in Colorado.
It’s highly likely that this was the American dog tick or wood tick, found primarily in the eastern two-thirds of the United States. It can serve as a vector of Rocky Mountain spotted fever and cause tick paralysis.
Tick exposure can lead to a variety of diseases. In addition to Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tick exposure may transmit diseases including: anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis and mycoplasmosis. Read on to find out about symptoms and strategies for avoiding and removing ticks. The next time you’re preparing for a hike with your dog, don’t forget about tick prevention!
Tick bite symptoms to watch for in dogs
It’s not always paralysis you need to watch for. Other symptoms include:
- Arthritis or lameness that lasts for three to four days
- Reluctance to move
- Swollen joints
- fever, fatigue
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Loss of appetite and neurological problems.
Even after you remove the tick, you should monitor your dog.
Why tick prevention medication is key
There are products available that repel or prevent ticks from attaching, and products that kill ticks within hours after they have attached. Of course, regional risks and a pet’s lifestyle should be considered.
I use tick collars with our three dogs. Our top choice is the Preventic collar, which provides full protection against ticks within 48 hours of placement, and lasts for up to 90 days. I haven’t had any issues when the dogs wear these on hikes.
Most of these can be found on Amazon. Your vet may also carry tick collars.
According to experts, be sure to “use these products according to their labels.” In other words, read up and follow all veterinary instructions, especially with cats and small breed dogs.
Pro tip: these drugs are only for use on dogs, so don’t give them to your cats.
Please stay up-to-date via your veterinarian and seek their counsel before using any of these above products.
Safe removal of ticks on dogs
If you do see a tick, here’s how to remove it. You can follow along in this video from the Ontario SPCA, as well.
Use the following checklist when you get back from a hike. Look in your dog’s ears and under their arms as ticks like spots that are inherently warm.
Start with gloves, a tick remover (or tweezers), and isopropyl alcohol, which you can find a drugstore. Also, based on experience, you may want to keep the tick and bring that to your veterinarian if you have concerns.
No matter what, always wear gloves!
There are two methods depending on what you’re using. Clean either the tweezers or tick remover with the alcohol.
- Grasp the tick as close to your dog’s skin as possible.
- Pull it out in a straight, steady motion.
- Gently press the remover against your pet’s skin near the tick.
- Slide the notch of the remover under the tick, pulling it free.
Questions for your vet
The next time you’re at the vet, ask them some of the following questions and get organized for future summer trips and hikes. Tick-borne diseases can be avoided.
- What ticks live in your region?
- Are indoor pets vulnerable?
- What about a monthly preventative? Seasonal?
- If I find a tick, should I come straight in, or wait for symptoms?
- Does your vet have any preferred tick prevention products?
Summer should be the best time of the year for pet parents to be out with their four-legged friends. With a little planning, you and your dog can safely enjoy the best of the season together.