Seed Tick Removal for Dogs

Seed ticks can be dangerous for your dog, and even yourself, by spreading disease and increasing the chances of skin infections. In sufficient numbers, they might also cause anemia in a small dog. It can be very difficult to prevent your dog from coming into contact with seed ticks, so it is important to learn how to remove them once they become attached.

What Are Seed Ticks?

Ticks are related to spiders, and seed ticks are their larval and/or nymph stage. Seed ticks can be very small, around the size of a millet seed or smaller, and are brown. Ticks hatch outside, usually in long grass, and congregate in large numbers around areas with suitable animals they can feed on. Many will attack the same animal at once, so your dog can quickly become infested. They will then feed and drop off, once they are ready to progress to the nymph and adult stages of their life cycle. Adult ticks can lay 6,000 or more eggs, so it is vital to interrupt their life cycle as soon as possible.

Ticks will usually attach themselves to the head and neck of your dog, but they can be found anywhere, including between his toes and inside his ears. They may stay attached to your dog for several days. You should check your dog regularly for ticks if you live in a tick prone area, or when you take him for a walk anywhere in the woods, or through long grass.

How to Remove Seed Ticks

You need to remove ticks as soon as possible, as disease can be transmitted two to six hours after the initial bite. If your dog has a lot of seed ticks, you can try to remove them using sticky tape. Seed ticks usually do not grip the dog as tightly as adult ticks, and will stick to the tape if the sticky side is brushed over your dog's fur. Alternatively, you can comb your dog with a fine-toothed flea comb. Any ticks that are removed should be put into a jar of rubbing alcohol or insecticide, which can be sealed to prevent escape. You can also use a tick removal shampoo.

If any of the ticks are tightly fastened to your dog's skin, you should remove them with tweezers. Wear gloves to prevent any possible disease transmission. Grip the tick as closely as possible to your dog's skin and pull firmly. If the head breaks off, you should try to remove it, as disease is transmitted through tick saliva. Do not try to loosen the tick with heat or grease beforehand, because this can traumatise it and cause it to "vomit," which can also transmit disease. Apply an ointment to the tick bite, and check regularly for irritation.

When removing ticks from your dog, don't forget to check the other family pets. Treat all pet bedding and carpets to remove any stray ticks. Keeping your lawn grass cut short can also help to reduce tick numbers, and ticks can be prevented with topical treatments.

Ticks are usually more of an annoyance than a danger, but in large numbers they can cause great discomfort, as well as transmit disease. Check your dog regularly for tick infestation, and treat any ticks as soon as they appear.