Prevent Ticks from Attaching
The best way to protect your pet from exposure to tick-borne disease is to manage your property to remove tick habitats (see Protecting Your Home: Habitat Modification).
If your pet goes outside regularly, you may want to use some type of residual insecticide. Frontline (active ingredient: fipronil) is a liquid applied to the skin between a dogs shoulders that discourages ticks from staying on your pet or implanting. Flea and tick collars, such as Preventic (active ingredient: amitraz), have some effectiveness against ticks. Keep in mind, though, that neither product can keep all ticks off your pet.
Please note that you should never use more than one insecticide or repellent to protect your pets because doubling the amount of anti-tick product, or using two at once, can be toxic to your pet. The active ingredient DEET, found in many over-the-counter insecticides, is toxic to pets. In addition, spray insecticide labeled for use on clothing should not be sprayed directly on to pets. Ask your veterinarian about the best way to protect your pets.
Simple Guidelines to Follow When Purchasing and Applying Pesticide Products To Pets
• Before using a pesticide product on your pet, carefully read and follow the product label exactly.
• Be sure you are choosing the correct product for your specific pet and for the particular pest problem. Certain products are approved only for dogs and not for cats.
• Observe any age and/or size restrictions and any reapplication intervals identified. If you have questions, contact the manufacturer or your veterinarian before applying.
• Do not use any pesticide product on debilitated, aged, medicated, sick, pregnant, or nursing pets, or on pets known to be sensitive to pesticide products without first reading the label to see if there are warnings about use on these sensitive animals. Consult a veterinarian.
• Never separate or discard the package, which contains the label, from the product container (such as individual applicator tubes).
• Use only on animals listed on the product label.
• Observe your pet after application for any sign of sensitivity.
• If signs of sensitivity occur, bathe your pet with mild soap, rinse with large amounts of water, and consult a veterinarian immediately.
Find and Remove the Ticks
The best way to find ticks on your pet is to run your hands over the whole body. Check for ticks every time your pet comes back from an area you know is inhabited by ticks. Ticks attach most frequently around the pet's head, ears, neck, and feet, but are by no means restricted to those areas.
Ticks embedded in the skin should only be removed by grasping the tick with pointed tweezers as close to the skin as possible and gently pulling backward until the tick becomes dislodged. Attempts to remove attached ticks with noxious chemicals or by burning will not work, may cause injury to your pet, and may increase the risk of disease transmission. After the tick has been removed, wash the skin area thoroughly.
Watch for Infection and Diseases
After you remove the tick, there may be an area of local inflammation that could look red, crusty, or scabby. The area may become infected, particularly if the pet continues to scratch at it. A mild antibiotic, such as over-the-counter triple antibiotic ointment, can help, but usually is not necessary. Any inflammation should subside within a week. If it stays crusty and inflamed longer than a week, it may be infected and you should consult your veterinarian.
Ticks can transmit a variety of diseases to your pets. Contact your veterinarian if your pet exhibit any unusual symptoms after a tick bite, including lethargy, joint pain (which may present as shifting from foot to foot, or lameness), loss of appetite, fever, or fatigue.