With the right monthly flea and tick preventatives, and regular grooming after a romp in the woods, hopefully you'll never need to make a trip to the vet for tick-related problems. Sometimes, though, a tick can sneak in and latch on before we realize it. And then, when we try to removed it, things don't go as we'd like. It's times like these calling your veterinarian is the way to go. It's important to be aware of the symptoms of tick-borne illness. Contact a vet if you suspect infection.
Prevention Is The First Line of Defense
Several types of ticks feed on companion animals, dependent partly on geographic location. Some are tiny, and some are less so. And they carry with them a variety of pathogens -- the most serious to dogs being Lyme disease. In areas where ticks are present, your veterinarian will probably recommend the use of monthly topical flea protection. These preventatives create a toxic barrier from ticks, not allowing them to latch on and make a meal of Fido. They are the primary line of defense from ticks. They must be applied as directed and not permitted to be washed or licked off.
If the Tick Has Latched On
If, while running your hands through Fido's fur, you notice a tick, remove it carefully, ensuring that the entire body and head are removed. A veterinarian is able to help with tick removal. If the tick appears “blood engorged” and has been feeding for a few days, calling your vet is highly recommended. Not only will he effectively remove the pest, but he may recommend blood tests to rule out any potential infection.
Removing the Tick Didn't Go Well
If you have tried to remove the tick but are unable to remove all of it, give your vet a call. The vet will have the tools necessary to remove even the tiniest fragment, which will help prevent possible infection. When you find one tick, it's possible others are on the dog's body. A vet will make sure Fido goes home tick-free.
When In Doubt, Seek Out A Veterinarian
If you witness symptoms of tick-borne illness. The most important reason to see a veterinarian is if you witness any symptoms of tick-borne illness. Lyme disease is perhaps the most serious and elusive of these diseases, because the symptoms -- joint stiffness and swelling, lameness, loss of appetite and lethargy -- may not be present for several months. Other tick-borne illnesses cause anemia and neurological symptoms as well -- so contacting a veterinarian is important if you have any suspicions your pup's been bitten, even if you haven't found a tick or think you fully removed it. Bloodwork tests for Lyme disease and broad spectrum antibiotics are generally effective for most tick-borne illnesses.
Working with both small animals and exotics, Pamela Meadors has devoted more than 15 years to the veterinary field. She possesses a bachelor's degree in biological sciences and is the proud mom of a blind hedgehog.