Should a tick be pulled from a dog’s body?

April 13, 2012

“Ekkkk! There’s a tick on my puppy’s ears”. “There – I managed to pull the tick off”. “The darned parasite will not suck my poor baby’s blood anymore”. Yes, you have removed the blood sucking parasite but are you aware that you did it the wrong way?

Ticks are one of the dreaded enemies not only of dogs but of dog owners as well. Ticks are blood sucking external parasites that infests many kinds of animals. When these parasitic arthropods feed on the blood of the dog a number of tick borne diseases can be readily transmitted. Tick borne diseases are zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted to the dog’s human family. Unlike other canine contagious diseases, human would not get infected through direct contact with the pet. However, an infected dog can always carry these parasites inside the home and it would be an easy matter for the ticks to attach themselves to humans and feed in the same manner that they feed on canines. To protect the pet and the family from diseases transmitted by ticks, it is necessary for a dog owner to have a basic knowledge on how these parasites can be removed and an infestation prevented.

Ticks usually hide among grasses and plants in wooded areas. Once the warmth and the motion of a possible host are detected, the tick will attach itself to the passing host and start to feed. Ticks are usually found on the ears, on the inside of the legs and on other parts of the dog’s body less covered with hair. The mandibles and the feeding tube will be inserted into the host’s skin and the tick will start a feeding frenzy. The blood meal can go on for hours – even days as these parasites would not detach from being locked in place until the blood meal is complete. Eggs, larva, nymphs and adult are the four life stages of ticks. Except for the eggs, ticks in the different stages of life would need a host for its blood meal. Ticks actually need three different hosts. After being hatched from the eggs, the larva would find a host and feed. After several days, the larva will detach from the host and fall to the ground to molt into nymphs. The nymph that becomes active will find another host. Once again, the nymph will detach after the meal and mature into an adult tick.

A tick infestation will cause the dog immense discomfort. Aside from this fact, infested dogs will suffer from anemia because of the blood loss. Tick infestation also means transmission of Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis and babesiosis. Dogs infected with Lyme disease would suffer from joint pains that can progress to lameness. Rocky Mountain spotted fever affects any organ system of the dog. Both ehrlichiosis and babesiosis affects and destroys the red blood cells of the dog.

Because of the diseases transmitted by ticks to the pet it is but natural for a dog owner to want to remove the parasite as soon as it is seen. However, the tick must not be pulled off from the dog’s body. Remember, the head and mouth parts of the parasite are deeply embedded on the dog’s skin. Pulling the tick the wrong way can cause the deeply embedded head to remain lodged in the skin resulting to the formation of abscess. Squeezing the body of the tick would not be a good idea either as the poison in the parasite’s body can be injected into the dog. The grip of the tick can be slackened by spraying the site with insecticide or applying alcohol. With tweezers positioned close to the skin as possible, the tick must be pulled steadily straight out from the skin. Antiseptic ointment must be applied on the bite site.

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