What To Do If You Find A Tick On Your Dog

Ticks are found in Alberta on tall grasses particularly in the spring time. Ticks can transfer on to dogs and people as they brush through the long grass. Ticks are parasites that feed off of the blood of pets & humans. There are two main types of ticks: hard ticks and soft ticks.
Hard ticks such as Ixodes species can transmit Lyme disease to dogs and humans. The ticks must be on the pet or human for 24-36 hours in order to transmit any diseases. Because ticks can be brought into the household, it is important to check your pet carefully after walking through long grass for ticks. Immature stages called nymphs are very small (the size of a poppy seed) and can be difficult to find. Once a tick has a blood meal, it is much bigger and is easier to find.  We don’t recommend removing ticks yourself as they can easily break off. Ticks that have broken off can still transmit disease into your pets, so we prefer that owners bring their pets into the clinic to have them removed. Our team is educated in how to properly remove these critters and we also have the proper tools such as curved forceps which allow us to grasp as close to the skin as possible.
There are a lot of different resources out there that will recommend things such as burning a tick off, drowning it in vaseline, using rubbing alcohol, etc. We would like our community to know that none of these are safe ideas and if you must remove the tick at home please do so in a well lit area, use tweezers and get as close to the skin as you can in order to pinch the tick at the head. You do not want to pinch the body as this could result in them regurgitating toxins into your pet’s blood stream. Place the tick into a plastic zip bag and please bring them – dead or alive – into our clinic to be sent to the provincial lab for testing for Lyme disease.

To avoid exposure to ticks, wear long pants and shirts when walking through tall grass. Dogs can be treated with topical veterinary prescribed products such as Revolution, Defend or Advantix to avoid bringing home ticks. Some over-the-counter remedies can be extremely toxic for cats, so we highly recommend discussing your prevention plan with our St. Albert veterinary team at Mission Ridge Animal Hospital.