As the weather begins to warm up, parasites become more active. Ticks are an especially annoying part of spring and summer, though they can be found all year round.
Ticks are known carriers of Lyme Disease and Ehrlichiosis. The tick’s bite itself is not a serious injury, but infection caused by the bacteria transmitted during the bite can be a hazard.
Even dogs and cats who are kept 100% indoors can pick up the occasional tick. Ticks, like fleas, can ride into the home on a person or another animal that has walked through grass or bushes. While it is less likely that an indoor animal will pick up a tick, it is good to know what to look for just in case.
If your pet has picked up a tick, it’s best to remove it right away. Grab the tick’s body as close to the dog’s skin as possible and gently pull it straight out. If the head remains in the skin, don’t worry. The dog’s immune system will fight back. You may notice a small bump of grainy skin around the bite. This helps to ward off infection in the rest of the dog’s body.
Using a petroleum jelly, alcohol or trying to burn the tick off is pointless. Studies have shown these “cures” to be ineffective.
If you pet begins to show odd, unrelated symptoms, or definite symptoms of Lyme Disease, don’t let your vet put you off. If it’s not a common illness in your area, have them test for it anyway. Being uncommon does not mean it never happens. Symptoms may include lethargy, bring thirstier than usual, leg limping, swelling of the lymph nodes, especially near the lameness or a temperature of 103 or above.
If left untreated, dogs can suffer kidney and bone marrow damage or failure, chronic bouts of symptoms brought on by stress, and even death.