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Ticks, tick-borne illnesses common around the area

We’ve discussed many times how dangerous ticks are to your pets (and you). Ticks seem to be becoming more prevalent in our area, as are tick-borne illnesses.

I have yet to have to remove a tick from my dogs, but I’m telling you, the day I do, you will hear me all the way down the mountain. I’d rather have to deal with a bat in the house than deal with a tick, and that, my friends, is serious.

Our dogs are currently on monthly Nexgard flea and tick soft chews and I pray it helps to keep the disease-transmitting buggers away. It gives me the shivers just thinking about it.

I even bought one of those packs of three tick removal thingy-ma-bobs hoping we never have to use them. They only cost $4.39 but I figure an ounce of prevention…

My worst fear was when I got the call from a dear friend who said their dog had a tick. They used tweezers to try to remove it but it was so engorged that it broke off leaving the head embedded in the dog.

I can barely write about this topic without cringing.

For them, the vet said to just leave it alone. The body would expel the remains naturally and eventually.

So, heaven forbid, what do you do if you or your pet does get a tick? You remove it as carefully as possible and as quickly as you can.

Let’s talk about how to correctly remove a tick. I certainly didn’t know and had to do a bit a research. Thanks to petmd.com, I gained the following tips.

First, put on a pair of gloves since ticks carry infectious diseases. Better safe than sorry.

Next, try to keep your pet calm. (I can’t even imagine trying to keep Rio still long enough to carry out this feat) therefore we’d have to enlist the help of our veterinarian to help us with Miss Squiggly-Butt.

Whether you are using tweezers or one of the fancier tick removal devices they now sell, grasp onto the tick as close to the dog’s skin as possible without pinching the skin. This is the best way to remove the head.

Using steady, even pressure, pull the tick straight out. Don’t twist or jerk the tick to avoid leaving any part of the tick’s mouth or head behind.

Be sure not to squeeze or crush the tick, since the fluids may contain infectious material.

I don’t know about you, but so far, I’m thinking if I accomplish even this much I’ve succeeded.

Examine the tick to make sure you removed the entire tick. If not, call your vet.

Kill the tick by placing it in a container with rubbing alcohol. Once the tick is dead, most veterinarians recommend keeping it in the container with a lid in case your pet begins displaying symptoms of disease so they can make a proper diagnosis.

Use triple-antibiotic spray or wipes to disinfect the bite area.

Remember when we were little and our parents slathered our cuts with mercurochrome? I digress, but those were the good old days, weren’t they? Don’t do that in this case. If the skin remains red or becomes inflamed, see your vet right away.

Over the next few weeks, watch for symptoms including joint pain (reluctance to move), fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, swollen lymph nodes or swelling at the bite site. If you do notice symptoms, call your vet.

There are too many types of ticks out there carrying too many different types of diseases. Check your pets often, especially if you have them in wooded areas. That’s not to say you can’t pick up a tick anywhere, including the city. Ticks are everywhere now. Stay vigilant!

Amy is the author of the new children’s book, “Oakley’s Great Cape Escape,” as well as, “Have Dog Will Blog,” editor of the Central PA Pets magazine and director of the Central PA Pet Expo. She can be contacted at ahanna

@altoonamirror.com or by mail: Paws and Reflect, c/o Amy J. Hanna-Eckenrode, Altoona Mirror, 301 Cayuga Ave., Altoona, PA 16602.

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