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Treatment for Ticks

Always examine your dog after hiking in tick-infested areas. If you find only one or two ticks, the easiest thing to do is remove them. Keep in mind that the blood of ticks can be dangerous to people. Therefore, do not crush or squeeze a tick with your bare fingers. Before removing the tick, put on disposable rubber or plastic gloves.

Ticks that are not attached to the skin are easily removed with a pair of tweezers. There are also special tick-removing devices that are widely available. Once removed, the tick can be killed by putting it in rubbing alcohol.

You must be careful if you find a tick with its head buried in the skin, because the head may detach and remain behind. Grasp the tick firmly with tweezers or a tick removal device, as close to the dog’s body as possible without pinching her skin, and lift it off.

Use the tweezers to place the tick in a jar or plastic dish with a little alcohol. Seal it well and dispose of the container in an outdoor garbage can. Don’t flush it down the toilet, because the tick will survive the trip and infect another animal. Wash the tweezers thoroughly with hot water and alcohol.

If the head or mouth parts remain embedded in the skin, redness and swelling is likely to occur at the site of the bite. In most cases, this reaction clears up in two to three days. A dab of antibiotic ointment will help prevent most skin infections. However, if it does not -- or if the redness seems to be getting worse -- consult your veterinarian.

If the dog has many ticks, treatment involves an insecticide dip containing natural or synthetic pyrethrins labeled for ticks, or an organophosphate dip such as Paramite. Be sure to eliminate all ticks from the dog’s sleeping quarters.

Ticks can work their way deep into the ear canals. These ticks should be removed by a veterinarian.

Tick Prevention

Ticks must attach for several hours before they can transmit diseases. Therefore, if you remove all ticks promptly after your dog has been running in the fields or woods, you can prevent many tick-borne infections.

Preventic tick collars containing amitraz are quite effective in controlling ticks. These collars are effective for up to three months, but should not be used on puppies under 12 weeks of age and should not be used on household dogs where young children may come in contact with the collar. Frontline, used to control fleas, kills or disables most ticks for up to 30 days following a single application. Consider using this product along with an amitraz tick collar during the tick season. Another option is Certifect, from the makers of Frontline, which contains amitraz and starts killing ticks within 6 hours. Advantix is another topical product that can repel and kill some species of ticks. Consult with your veterinarian to find the right tick product for your dog.

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Dr. Jones is an Atlanta-based veterinarian who founded the Peachtree Hills Animal Hospital of Atlanta in 2005…More

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