The lowly tick is in the spotlight — thanks to growing concern about Lyme disease and a new awareness of all the dangers ticks can bring.
These nasty little creatures carry at least 15 common diseases, including Rocky Mountain fever, Lyme disease and others so serious you – or your dog – can die! There are countless other infections, bacteria and diseases that they also carry.
Ticks are hard to treat and control. They have the tenacity of cockroaches. Some types can live for more than a year without a meal.
They can wait on a small branch or stem for up to six months for a victim to walk by. Then they latch on and start their “blood fest.”
Ticks bite the victim, or ‘host,’ then burrow their heads under the skin. A barbed feeding tube syphons off the host’s blood. As they gorge, ticks expand up to 100 times their original size, filling themselves with blood. A tick that starts out the size of a poppy seed, can blow up to the size of a freakish grape after feeding.
Common tick, before and after feeding
Dog ticks removal
You can remove the tick yourself, if it hasn’t attached itself to an inner ear, an eyelid or some other delicate location.
Some owners prefer to go straight to the Vet to have the tick safely and cleanly removed.
It’s important to get the tick out within 24 hours of biting but don’t worry in most cases, the tick must be attached at least 36 hours to infect the victim with a disease.
You’ll need tweezers and rubbing alcohol or iodine and tweezers. The alcohol or iodine is for cleaning up the bite area after you’ve removed the tick. Plus you should have a small container filled with rubbing alcohol, to pop the tick in to kill it.
Be very careful – any contact with the tick’s blood can transmit infection to your dog or even to you! Wear rubber gloves. Gently but steadily pull the tick straight up
To start, pull your dog’s hair back and splash some of the rubbing alcohol around the area. It might temporarily stun the tick, and will also help keep the area cleaner. Then use your tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Start steadily pulling straight up. DO NOT TWIST OR TURN THE TICK. DO NOT SQUISH THE TICK.
Remember, the tick’s head is firmly embedded under your dog’s skin at this point. This head is barbed with backward-curving spines so the tick is firmly embedded. Once the tick is out, thoroughly wash your dog’s wound with water and mild soap and apply rubbing alcohol or iodine.
Store the evidence
Without touching the tick with your bare hands, drop it into a small container that contains rubbing alcohol (the alcohol will quickly kill the tick), and mark the date on the container.
Keep the container.
If your dog begins to show symptoms of a tickborne illness, your Veterinarian may want to identify or test the tick.
Keep an eye on the area where the tick was to see if an infection develops. If the skin remains irritated or infected, make an appointment with your veterinarian.
Wash your hands thoroughly when you’re done.
The tick remover tool
A special “tick remover” tool can be found online or in stores, sold as The Tick Key (which clips onto your key ring); the Tick Nipper (which has a handy built-in magnifying glass) or the Original TICKED OFF tool. Of course you’ll need to be prepared with one BEFORE you actually spot a tick, since time to safely remove the tick is short.
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Check out my new Amazon book Ticks on Dogs – Small Dog Nightmare here – just 99⍧ for a limited time.
Americans spend more than $1 billion each year on products designed to kill fleas and ticks on pets!
Are we winning the war? Probably not; fleas can be a real nuisance for dogs, but ticks seem almost impossible to conquer.
They are super resistant to insecticides and can live for long periods without food. Like a science fiction nightmare, ticks latch on to their host and bury their heads in the flesh, drinking the victim’s blood. Blood is their only meal, in fact.
Ticks are terrible for small dogs; tick control can be even worse
Ticks are extremely difficult to control and prevent, even with the most effective products.
But what’s better? Heavy chemicals to keep ticks away, or the risk of tick bites and disease? These chemical treatments can really tax your small dog’s liver and other organs. Some products are safer than others, but let’s face it – these are powerful insecticides, formulated to poison life.
The battle is on.
There are four main commercial options for fighting ticks and fleas:
- Spot-on products
- Flea and tick collars
- Powders and sprays
- Oral medications
And there’s the option to vaccinate your Morkie against Lyme Disease, one of the main infections that female ticks can carry.
Not one of these options is good for a dog like a Morkie. Why?
Morkies (and other small dogs) have the documented, WORST adverse reaction to spot-on products in particular. No surprise – these are basically killer insecticides.
The EPA’s findings
In 2010, after extensive study, the Environmental Protection Agency published its findings:
↓ the most commonly affected organ systems were skin, gastrointestinal (digestive), and nervous.
↓ small breed dogs were affected more than larger breeds for some products – one reason why – all dogs are given the same dosage of some of the treatments!
↓ most flea and tick products contain chemicals that are, in their words, “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.” So what about small dogs?
The worst offender – spot-on products
These have been identified as the worst treatments for small dogs. We may think that the liquid dose we apply between the dog’s shoulders once a month is safe. The idea is that when he shakes, that dose of pesticide gets distributed throughout this coat. The problem is, it also makes its way throughout the dog’s entire system. And it’s poison.
So what can you do?
Read all you can about tick treatment. If you decide to go ahead, then:
- be sure your dog gets the lowest possible dose
- think twice before treating every year: you can get your dog tested for signs of tick infection instead. There is some research that shows treating annually is over-kill.
- consider the non-toxic way to go: keep your dog away from environments where ticks thrive; clear your home and yard of dangers; inspect your dog daily and spot & remove any ticks; and test annually.
To learn more about the potentially-deadly effects of flea and tick treatment on small dogs, you can check out my new book at Amazon. It’s on for a limited time for 99 cents and you can read it on your Kindle, ipad, computer, laptop or smartphone.