In the days of yore, you would have encountered parents diligently inspecting their child’s head for lice, trying their best to comb out the trouble from the moment they are made aware of the problem. Today, the concerns of a pet parent are not very different when it comes to the big, fat problem of ticks.
Much like lice, these pesky parasites attach themselves to the skin of your fur baby and feast on the blood of your poor, four-pawed kid. These eight-legged creatures (which can be between 1 mm and 1 cm long) are large enough to be visible to the naked eye. They stick to the dog’s coat, burrow through to the skin and insert their mouthparts in to draw blood – oh no! we haven’t even got to the actual gross bit yet! After sticking to the skin, ticks produce a substance to remain attached, making the skin irritated and red. That’s gross, and alarming too.
Not only do ticks cause a lot of pain and irritation, they also transmit microbes which cause diseases. Anaemia, Lyme disease and babesiosis are some of the serious problems if you are dealing with ticks.
Detecting the problem
If your dog has been out for a walk or hike, has been in an environment that is not really clean, or has rubbed shoulders (or fur) with a stray animal, there’s a good chance that it has been bequeathed the problem. Run your hands through that coat, and if you feel the skin slightly bumpy, it’s time for a closer inspection. Try to gently part the fur with your hands and then run your fingers through it. These parasites love dark nooks, so make sure you do not miss out the areas in and around the ears, around eyelids, under the collar, near the neck, around the tail, between toes and the back legs, and the head. These things look like a wart, and if you observe closely, warts with eight legs- like a spider. 😱🕷️
If these visible signs are not enough, there’s more. Your dog might be running a fever and could start to lose its appetite. It might be shaking its head more than usual as the tick could have ventured into its ear canal. Your otherwise healthy dog might also have a lot of scabs on it. If you notice any of these symptoms, make sure you do not put off getting rid of the ticks, lest the problem should fester.
Tackling the ticks
As a pet parent, I am sure you will want your floof to be healthy and tick-free. There are quite a few ways to deal with this annoying problem:
- Preventive measures such as regularly examining your pet’s fur and sanitizing your house with an anti-flea/tick spray can help.
- When you spot ticks, do not rush in with your fingers to hastily pull them out. More often than not, you would have left the tick’s mouth part still sunk into your pet’s skin.
- Tweezers are recommended, where with one steady and gentle move you can pull the tick out. Tick keys and tick combs (there are electronic versions of flea combs too) can also be very useful.
- Use rubbing alcohol to kill these nasty buggers instead of crushing them.
- Spot treatments such as applying a cream/gel/ medicinal liquids work too. Check that they are vouched for by a vet and do not inflame your pet’s skin.
- Tick sprays also help combat the problem. Do not forget to wear gloves before using sprays though, and keep it well away from your eyes.
- Tick shampoos (reminds one of anti-lice shampoo) can provide quick relief from the problem. Ticks fall off the coat if the shampoo is a good one, and the shampoo should not dry out your dog’s coat.
- Dog flea collars are a great option too! They contain flea and tick repellent chemicals which prevents the ticks from attaching themselves to the dog’s skin in the first place.
- Unlike most of the topical treatments we have discussed so far, there are also oral medicines for ticks that can provide instant relief, and are available mostly in the form of chewable pills.
Make sure that when you try out any of these solutions, you buy products that come recommended by a vet and tested. Buy from trusted, reliable pet stores (such as Sniffr.in, duh!). If the problem persists, make an appointment with your vet. You can’t go wrong with that one 😊