by Anthony Carr

“Tick season” typically runs from April to mid-October. During those months, it is imperative to diligently check your dog for ticks because they carry a number of diseases that are harmful to your pet and your family, including Lyme disease and rocky mountain spotted fever. Additionally, with rising temperatures across the country, the tick population seems to be steadily growing and expanding geographically in recent years. Although there are numerous tick preventative measures you can take to help protect your pet, it is still important to know what to do when one inevitably attaches itself to your dog.

Pet owners should inspect their dog daily during tick season, especially if their pup enjoys spending a lot of time outside. Ticks tend to gravitate towards certain spots on a dog’s body, so pay special attention to the area under a dog’s collar, in and around its ears, around its eyelids, the base of its tail, in between its toes and between its back legs. If you do spot a tick, immediately remove the pest with tweezers, pinching it at the head and pulling straight out. Occasionally, the head of the tick will remain attached to your dog when you tweeze it off. According to Dr. Krystyna Hinz, a practicing veterinarian in Manchester, NH, this is okay and will only cause your dog mild irritation: “Always pull a tick off your dog as soon as you spot it, regardless of whether or not your pet is on a tick preventative.”

Ticks are notoriously hard to kill. No matter how hard you crush them, they always seem to survive. Once removed from your dog, the best way to kill a tick is to drown it in a little rubbing alcohol, then just dispose of it in your regular rubbish.

When tick eggs hatch, the eggs become larvae, which will molt into nymphs before molting again to the larger adult form. Tick nymphs tend to cluster together, which creates a nightmare nest your dog can run into. Nymphs are tiny, no larger than 2 mm. Dr. Hinz suggests to “use a sticky lint roller to remove them from your dog’s fur if your dog encounters a cluster of them.”

Although tick preventatives don’t stop every single tick from attaching to your dog, they do stop most of them and are still an important part of protecting your pet during tick season. Preventatives range from medicated collars to topical gels, to chews you feed your pet once per month. Discuss preventative options with your veterinarian to determine the right choice for your dog. There are also lawn treatments you can have applied to your yard by a landscape or pest control company that will limit, if not eliminate, the tick population on your own property. With all of these options, what is the most effective preventative, one might ask? Rural readers rejoice because according to Dr. Hinz the best tick preventative a dog owner can employ is “freerange chickens!”