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Ticks On Your Dog: What to Do?

Once though of as a mere harmless but annoying pest, ticks are of growing concern for their Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme Disease-carrying ability. Learn the facts, and keep your dog tick and disease-free.

Ticks are a despicable lot of parasitic bloodsuckers. They bide their time in wooded areas, stay close to ground level and wait for an unsuspecting mammal to shuffle on by so they can descend upon him and sink those nasty little teeth in for a long meal of blood, blood and more blood. Once a tick has embedded itself into your dog, it will hang on indefinitely, taking in copious amounts of blood until it is bloated and gorged. If you find a corn kernel-like object hanging from your dog's ear or elsewhere on his body that turns out to have legs, it's probably a tick that's been feasting for hours. Remove it immediately, check your dog thoroughly for more ticks, and then call your veterinarian for further direction and advice.

Check Your Dog Regularly for Ticks

If you live in or near a wooded area, perform a routine tick check on your dog. As a good dog owner who's been looking out for your dog's best interests and ensuring him a happy life, you should already be familiar with the "chassis inspection." If not, now is as good a time as any to get familiar with it. Have your dog sit down in front of you and run your hands all over his body. Check his ears and the undersides of his paws. Don't forget those out of sight areas like his belly and the place where his leg bends into his body. He won't like these intrusions at first, but if you're gentle and speak to him softly in that special voice reserved only for him, your dog will eventually grow to tolerate the tick inspection and may even enjoy it.

Tick Removal

If the tick is well-embedded into your dog's flesh, use a tweezer to grip it firmly, as close to the skin as possible. You want to remove the entire tick without leaving the embedded head behind (I know- disgusting, but necessary). If you take some skin along with the tick, that's okay- it's more important to get the head out than than fret over a little lost skin. If you find that the head has remained imbedded and you can't remove it, keep a close eye on the area. Your dog's immune system will likely create a small site of infection around the head as a way to dislodge it. That's perfectly normal; it's just his body doing its thing to ward off disease.

Once the tick is out, save it in a jar and send it off to school with your little ones for show and tell. Just kidding about the show and tell.... but you really should hold the tick captive in a jar if you can. You'll have it as a specimen to show your vet "just in case" your dog starts exhibiting signs of Lyme disease.

Complications of a Tick Bite

Ticks pose the threat of disease - not just mild illness, but serious, debilitating diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (prevalent in the western United States), Lyme Disease (prevalent in the Northeastern US), and other less commonly known bacteria-bourne illnesses that can lead to serious complications including paralysis and death.

You can choose not practice tick prevention, thereby engaging your dog in a little "Russian Roulette" each time a tick bites... or you can do the smart thing, which is keep him tick-free and consequently, disease-free.

Tick Control

Many of the same products that afford protection against fleas also repel ticks, particularly the "spot on" applications such as Frontline?, that can be applied to the skin between your dog's shoulder blades once a month for maximum protection. Ticks can also be controlled with the traditional flea prevention methods such as dipping, bathing, spraying and powdering.

Talk to your vet about which tick repellant is right for you, as he has access to your dog's medical history and can offer advice based on prior health records.

Copyright 2005 Dina Giolitto. All rights reserved.

Dina Giolitto is a copywriting consultant and ghostwriter with 10 years of experience writing corporate print materials and web content. Trust her with your next e-book, article series or web project, and make a lasting impression on your audience of information-hungry prospects. Visit http://www.wordfeeder.com for more information.

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