How to Get a Leech Off a Dog

by Judith Willson
 

Removing a leech doesn't require special tools.

Dogs that enjoy swimming might encounter all sorts of other creatures, some of which like eating dogs. Leeches in particular abound in still water and sluggish streams; they attach themselves to pretty much any creature that swims past. Although they might look revolting, leeches don’t normally transmit diseases in the manner of ticks. Removal is usually straightforward.

Step 1

Get your dog to stand in front of you while you inspect him. Leeches often come in batches, so if he has one leech clinging to him, he might well have more. Check him thoroughly, not forgetting his ears, belly, legs and tail.

Step 2

Slide a flat object between the leech’s mouthparts -- the narrower end, attached to the dog -- and your dog’s skin. Try a thin, stiff piece of plastic or your fingernail.

Step 3

Grip the leech firmly around the middle of its body with your other hand and pull. Leeches drop off once they’ve satisfied their hunger, but in the meantime they’ll be sucking blood from your pet.

Step 4

Drop the leech into a bucket of water. Add salt to the water if you want to kill the leech; flush the water down the drain later. If you are feeling eco-friendly, use plain water and dump the leeches back where they came from.

Step 5

Wash each wound in tepid water, then dab with antiseptic cream. Although the leech probably hasn’t introduced toxins, bacteria always present in the environment can potentially cause infection. Basically, treat the leech wounds as you would scratches.

Step 6

Bandage any wounds that keep bleeding. Leeches release a substance that temporarily stops blood clotting. The effects shouldn’t last too long, but you may wish to stem the bleeding in the meantime.

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