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Ticks and your pet: What to do should you find them

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
April 28th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

If you live in a rural and mountainous area, and you let your dog roam freely outside, there is always the danger of a tick latching themselves on to their coat. Unlike the flea, the tick can carry the deadly Lyme disease, which may be fatal to animals - and humans. Should you see these blood-sucking parasites on your pet, it's important to remain calm - and grab a pair of tweezers.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - SPCA veterinarians say to take your time, as moving too fast when removing a tick could potentially create more problems, both for your pet and for you.

Tweezers are as good as anything in removing ticks, but here are many other tools available at pet stores. You may want to invest in one of these if ticks are common in your area.

You should at first find a place to dispose of the tick. Washing it down the drain in the sink or flushing them down the toilet will not kill a tick, and leave them to seek blood elsewhere. The best option is a screw-top jar containing some rubbing alcohol.

Don't touch the tick with your bare hands - a glove of latex or rubber is absolutely essential. Ticks can carry infective agents that may enter your bloodstream through breaks in your skin or through mucous membranes if you later touch your eyes, nostrils or mouth).

Get someone else to hold you dog or cat down as animals get mighty squirmy under duress. Have a helper on hand to distract, soothe or hold her still.

Treat the bite area with rubbing alcohol and using the tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the animal's skin as possible. Pull straight upwards with steady, even pressure and then place the offending insect in your jar.

Be sure to not twist or jerk the tick! This may leave the mouth-parts embedded in your pet, or cause the tick to regurgitate infective fluids. You should also not squeeze or crush the body of the tick, because its fluids may contain infective organisms.

In spite of all of these precautions, a tick's mouth-parts will get left behind in your pet's skin. If the area doesn't appear red or inflamed, the best thing to do is to disinfect it and not to try to remove the mouth-parts out. A warm compress to the area might help the body expel them - but leave the tweezers out of the equation.

Then, thoroughly disinfect the bite site and wash your hands with soap and water Sterilize your tweezers with alcohol or by carefully running them over a flame.

Be vigilant. Over the next few weeks, closely monitor the bite area for any signs of localized infection. If the area is already red and inflamed, or becomes so later, please bring your pet, and with your collected tick to your vet for evaluation.

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