I went for a walk with my pet. Now what?

The warm summer months lead to spending more time outside, which potentially results in more tick exposure. Many ticks harbor co-infections, meaning that they carry more than one disease such as Lyme disease. Did you know that only about 5% of dogs exposed will develop symptoms that are attributed to Lyme disease?  In order to best protect your dog from Lyme disease, you should: thoroughly check your dog for ticks after they’ve been outside and remove any ticks that are found, utilize a veterinarian recommended flea & tick preventative year round & make sure your dog is current on his or her Lyme vaccination.

When checking your pet for ticks, brush or run your hands over your pet’s whole body, applying enough pressure to feel any small bumps or something the size of a pea. You may also use a brush or flea comb, stopping if you hit a bump or a snag to investigate. Most attachments occur in front of the shoulder blades, which includes the head, neck, and front legs. Make sure to also feel under the collar, under their armpits, between their toes, behind the ears, and around the tail. Ticks are attracted to dark, hidden areas and when attached can range in size from the size of a pinhead to a grape.

If you find an unattached tick, place it in alcohol and dispose of it. If you are uncomfortable removing the tick yourself, then call your veterinarian. While wearing gloves to protect yourself, use fine-tipped tweezers to grip the tick’s head as close to the skin as possible. Pull the tick straight out, slowly and steadily, without squeezing the body, then place it in alcohol and dispose of it. It is very typical for a small nodule to occur at the site of the attachment and persist for up to three weeks. Clinical signs of Lyme disease typically occur weeks to months following a bite and may include limping, lethargy, poor appetite, or fever. A very small percentage of dogs may also develop a fatal form of the disease that affects their kidneys. If the skin remains irritated or infected or you suspect something might be wrong, call us at 610-926-8866.