Protect your pets from ticks!

It’s tick season once again! Some easy tips will help you and your pet get through it safely!

May, June and July are the prime months for ticks in Michigan! Checking your animals for ticks is an essential step in protecting them and yourself.  In particular, dogs are very susceptible to tick bites and tick-borne diseases and vaccines are not available for all tick-borne diseases that dogs can get.  There are a few strategies you can utilize to help prevent ticks on your pet.It’s tick season once again!  Some easy tips will help you and your pet get through it safely!

You can kill ticks that might be on your dog with a pesticide product called an acaricide.  Acaricides can be in the form of a dust, impregnated collars, sprays or topical treatment.  Some acaricides kill the tick on contact, while others may be absorbed into the bloodstream of the dog and kill ticks that attach and feed.  Pros of using this strategy are that they will help reduce the number of ticks in the environment and they will prevent
tick-borne diseases.  The downfall is tick bites may cause a painful wound which can become infected. When bitten, the dog may become infected with a number of diseases; depending on the type of tick, if the tick is carrying a disease and how quickly a product kills a feeding tick.

An alternative is to repel ticks on dogs.  A repellent product may prevent the tick from coming into contact with your pet or have anti-feeding effects once the tick comes into contact with the chemical, preventing the bite.  Although repellents do not decrease the number of ticks in the environment, they can prevent bite wounds that could result in infection and prevent tick-borne disease.

The Center for Disease Control recommends following some simple steps to protect you and your pet from tick-borne diseases:

  • Check your pets for ticks daily, especially after they spend time outdoors.
  • If you find a tick on your dog remove it right away.
  • Ask your veterinarian to conduct a tick check at each exam.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about tick-borne diseases in your area.
  • Reduce tick habitat in your yard.
  • Talk with your veterinarian about using tick preventives on your pet.

Removing a tick from your pet is easy.  Michigan State University Extension recommends first, before examining your pet, finding a pair of latex gloves to help protect yourself from tick-borne disease.  To determine if your pet does have a tick you must feel your pet all over, specifically around the neck, head and ears. If you encounter a lump like a small pea, move the fur on your pet to see if you have found a tick. Look to see if a tick is protruding from the skin. Ticks are tiny black, brown, reddish or tan disk-like arachnids (having eight legs), about the size of the head of a pin. Visit for pictures of various types of ticks.  If they have attached themselves to their host (your pet), then they can swell up to the size of a grape in some cases.

To remove the tick, put your pet in a comfortable position. Ask a friend or family member for help in distracting your pet.  Grasp the tick with tweezers as close to your pet's skin as possible; make sure not to pinch your pet's skin. Pull the tick out using a straight, steady pulling motion. Be gentle; pulling too hard on the tick can cause its head to remain lodged in your pet's skin, which can lead to inflammation and secondary infection. Dispose of the tick by throwing it into a fire, or by squishing it in a tissue using the tweezers and then flushing it down the toilet. Do not smash it with your foot or your bare hands. Apply antiseptic ointment to the bite to prevent infection. Wash your hands thoroughly after you have removed and disposed of the tick. Clean the tweezers and any other equipment you used with hot water or isopropyl alcohol.

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