Keeping your dog free from ticks and fleas

Sweep off on is walk in tall grasses

Sweep doing his tick tram rounds, no doubt picking up new passengers.

 

Owning a dog brings a fair amount of responsibility and part of that means checking him for ticks and fleas.

Of course your vet will recommend Frontline (every country we’ve been to tried to sell us this highly toxic chemical formula) but we weren’t happy to be dousing our furry son in pollution and poison so we did a little exploring on the matter.

First things first though; Sweep had a tick on his nose the night we found him and judging by its size it hadn’t been there for long. We took him to the vet, watched her remove it and since than have removed them ourselves, either with tweezers or fingernails. He’s a regular tick tram.

Ticks hide in tall grasses and wait for passing animals onto which they can grip. Their jaws and front legs are incredibly powerful for their size and if not done correctly it can be a real struggle to remove them.

Here’s a few pictures of one I removed so you can see what you’re looking for:

A successfully removed tick

Top down view of a tick... Ugly!

 

Another view of a successfully removed tick

The underside of a tick. Also UGLY!

 

As you can see they’re ugly little things, normally no more than half a centimetre at most. They can be found with a thorough search of your dog, especially around the throat, neck and chest, any areas likely to come into contact with taller grass. They’re most prominent between March and September but we’ve found them on him all year round.

The sack is where they harvest the dog’s blood and upon finding one it’ll flip about under your finger (almost like a mole). DO NOT be tempted to pull the sack as it won’t remove the tick and according to vets can poison your pet by forcing digested plasma back into its blood stream.

The trick to removing them is to grip the head, either with right angled tweezers or between the nails on forefinger and thumb, then pull while twisting anti-clockwise. Don’t be squeamish about it; the tick will come off and it won’t try to stick to you. Drown it in alcohol and clean the bite area with a few dabs of surgical spirit.

 

This is the kind of place ticks hang out. Ticky Towers. (Don't mention that to Sweep).

 

It’s important to rid your dog of ticks and fleas as they can both cause ringworm and deposit other parasites so you should check them everyday after a walk. A useful anti-tick remedy is to spray a mixture of lemon juice and lavender oil on your dog and work it into his skin.

Scaribor collars are also a must during the summer months in Spain as they prevent the mosquito-like Sandflys which carry the deadly Leishmaniasis Disease.

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