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Dont Let Ticks Ruin Your Dogs Good Time!

Nobody likes ticks.

In fact, when it comes to ticks I can't think of a single redeeming quality.

While you may see the occasional ant farm or flea circus, the tick competes with the cockroach on the "likeability" scale!

Here's what you need to know to defeat them and prevent them from spoiling you and your dog's Summer fun...

What Makes a Tick "Tic"?

Did you know that ticks aren't insects? They belong to the same family as spiders (arachnids). That may explain why we humans find them especially unappealing!

The fact that it behaves like a tiny vampire makes the tick even more detestable. Technically, a tick is a blood sucking mite that can expand 20 to 100 times it's size as it feeds. (Gross). And ticks can spread Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, making them potentially lethal.

Ticks use their sharp mouth pieces to attach themselves to your dog's skin. Their favorite spots are the head, neck, ears, or feet. The scariest thing about them is the fact that ticks can go unnoticed.

Tiny as they are, they can attach themselves to you or your dog without being seen or felt. And especially if your dog has a dark coat, ticks will often continue to go unnoticed until they're well engorged with blood.

At that point, you still may not see them, but you'll certainly feel them by running your fingers or a fine toothed comb through your dog's coat. (I still remember finding one on our black poodle when I was a child. It looked like a small school bus, so I can only imagine how long it had been there! )

The Spring and Summer months are when ticks are most prevalent, but any time your dog has been in a heavily wooded area, she should be checked. Ticks like wooded, grassy, and damp areas best.

Two types of ticks are most commonly found on dogs--the brown dog tick and the American dog tick. But deer ticks and western black-legged ticks will feed on dogs too. Of course, the tick was captured before having a chance to feed. The average tick begins it's adventures approximately the size of a sesame seed. After making a meal of your dog's (or your) blood, it may reach the size of a small grape! ( I swear, the one I saw looked like a school bus...)

Aside from the risk of contracting Lyme disease or spotted fever from ticks, there's another concern: Too many ticks feeding on a single dog can cause severe anemia or a condition called tick paralysis.

Does and Don'ts of Tick Removal

A tick can be spotted fairly easily against a background of pink skin or a light colored coat. Check your dog all over, but especially around the head and neck, ears and paws. Against dark skin and coats, ticks virtually disappear, so you'll have to feel for them. Another option is to run a fine-toothed comb or flea comb through your dog's coat to loosen ticks that haven't "latched on" yet.

Please pay special attention to the following:

  • Don't use your bare hands. Latex gloves will protect you from from the tiny organisms that live on ticks and spread disease.
  • Do grasp the tick with a tweezers or forceps by the head and pull slowly but firmly, taking care not to leave any of it in the skin.
  • Do clean the bite site with rubbing alcohol and apply antibiotic ointment.
  • Don't hold a lit match to the tick or try to smother it with chemicals like kerosene or petroleum jelly. At best, you'll irritate your dog's skin and at worst burn it. The tick won't bat an eye.
  • Do drop ticks into rubbing alcohol to kill them Don't attempt to flush a live tick down the toilet or drain, or throw it in the waste basket. It may crawl back out. (The thought of that gives me the willies!!)

How to Avoid and Prevent ticks

Control and prevention of ticks is especially important in avoiding diseases associated with them.

What areas should you avoid? Wooded areas, tall grass, low brush, and damp areas are all attractive to ticks. They also are found in greater numbers in areas such as the Northeastern United States. No place is completely safe, though, since a person or animal can "give ticks a ride" from one place to another by carrying them on their skin, clothing or coats.

In parts of the country where the tick population is especially heavy and the risk of Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever especially great, your vet may suggest your dog be vaccinated against ticks. Weigh the pros and cons with your vet if that's what he or she recommends.

There are plenty of products on the market designed to repel and/or kill ticks. (Never use tick products designed for dogs on a cat -- it could kill her). Personally, I like all natural products for controlling fleas and ticks. All conventional products designed to kill/repel fleas and ticks are poisons of one kind or another, and can pose some risk to your pet. Garlic tablets, herbal shampoos, and botanical oils are among your choices. There's also a spray to relieve hot spots and irritated skin.

No more ticks!

At last, you and your pet can stay healthy and tick-free.Your dog will sure be glad you took the time to read up on ticks! Remember, natural products help your pets fight parasites better by keeping them strong, healthy, and toxin-free!

2004, Carolyn Schweitzer. Lifelong dog-lover, power-shopper, and former family dentist Carolyn Schweitzer is owner and editor of where she offers a wide range of choices for dog gift shoppers, plus shopping and gift-giving tips. (Also advice on dog care and feeding.)

Visit the site to view the full illustrated artice and learn where to find natural tick control products (links contained in article).

You can reach Carolyn by email at

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