Ticks are external parasites that live off the blood of other animals and are typically brown or grey and can vary widely in size from a couple millimetres to about the size of a “bean”.

When ticks latch on to other animals like your pet, they feed off the  blood supply, leading to the transmission of a number of harmful and even fatal diseases in the process.

Dogs, in particular, are likely to spend more time outdoors during the warmer months and it is important to check regularly for ticks

 Where to Look For Ticks

When examining your pet for ticks, move slowly and examine the entire body thoroughly.

Start with the head first, looking for ticks in the ears. Make sure there are no ticks on the ear flaps and feel behind the ears for any lumps or bumps.

Ticks like to congregate in places that are hard to reach so check underneath the collar to see if there’s anything there. If you have a dog, examine the muzzle as well.

Next, run your fingers down the chest and rest of the body. Pay attention to areas such as the toes, underbelly, groin and the base of tails.

Finally, move your fingers through the hair and against the grain as this will allow you to look straight down the hair shaft into the skin itself.

 Tick Removal

The faster you can remove a tick from your pet, the less likely it is to contract a related illness.

When removing a tick, make use of a pair of gloves, so you don’t come into contact with the tick. Use a specialised tick key or tweezers to pry out the tick, taking care not to leave any part of the tick still embedded in your pet.

Place the tick in rubbing alcohol to kill and preserve, once it’s been removed. Preserve the tick so you can show it to your Vet for identification. Your Vet should be able to tell you what species it is and what diseases it may carry.

Don’t squash or crush a tick as this can cause infected fluids to be forced out of the tick’s mouth, increasing the risk of infection, both for your dog and for you.

 You should also avoid burning the tick or throwing it in a garbage bin.


 Preventative Measures

A few preventative measures will go a long way in keeping ticks away from your pets.

Keep the grass in your backyard mowed short and when walking your dog, avoid grassy patches known to harbour ticks.  Avoid bush and scrub like areas during tick season or be extra vigilant.  

If you own more than one pet, treat them for ticks at the same time as this will help in preventing cross infestation. Also treat all the interior areas – get new bedding, vacuum carpets and sofas.

Consider using a fogger for thoroughly cleansing the room and evacuate humans and pets from the area for 12 – 24 hours.

There are also products designed to protect pets from fleas and ticks. These range from sprays and washes to liquids, tablets and collars. Make sure any formulation you are planning to give is the right one for your pet. Some treatments for dogs may be harmful for cats and vice versa.