Posted: May 15, 2015
Views: 7109 - Comments: 8

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Jerry had Newman. Harry had Voldemort. I have ticks. I only recently found out ticks are my archenemies. This spring they sent me a formal declaration of war via my dog. It's been rough.

Most people I talk to think we are tick free here in Oregon. NO. Not the case. My trusty canine hiking companion, Porter, has proof of this via his medical records. He's had three ticks in the last month. Here's what I've learned from my experience and from my super-smart medical coworkers at DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital.

Ticks are disgusting and gross. They are also rather hardy. Porter is on parasite preventive medication, which has helped him tremendously, but nothing is 100% effective, and ticks are harder to pre-treat than fleas. You can't assume you are totally protected, especially during the high tick season.

In the springtime, think of mild, moist wooded areas (like the Columbia River Gorge here in Oregon) as Daytona Beach for ticks; they are everywhere and they are ready to party. Protect yourself by staying out of the brush (think of the brush as tick bars) and wearing long clothing. Be extra cautious with your dog. Keep them on the trail, comb their fur out prior to getting in the car, and give them a long bath when you get home.

Do a thorough tick check after your dog’s bath. Feel around for new bumps and check for new "freckles". I found a tick less than 12 hours after it moved in on my dog. I had to look very closely to see it was a tick and not something else. The red rash and tiny legs gave it away upon close inspection. (I know, gross).

When doing a tick check, I have learned (and our medical staff recommends) paying special attention to between-the-toes, in the folds of skin, and around the head. Porter is a terrier, and ticks have hidden quietly in his beard twice. I won't tell you how I found them. I'm still traumatized.

If you find a tick, I personally recommend buying a tick twister from your local pet store to remove the parasite. The twister helped me ensure clean removal of the entire tick. I would also suggest giving yourself a pep talk beforehand in the mirror if you are as grossed out as I was.

When I did use tweezers, I missed the head during removal. Unfortunately, Porter had a bad reaction to this and got an infection. Total bummer. This doesn't happen all the time, but watch the area carefully after tick removal. Use a warm compresses to reduce any inflammation and swelling.

After removal, put the tick in rubbing alcohol to kill it. They are hardy creatures, and they can survive even being thrown away and flushed down the toilet. Many universities are interested in studying ticks and Lyme disease, so once the tick is dead consider taking a photo of it and recording your sighting at the University of Rhode Island's TickEncounter Resource Center. Actions like this help create more effective preventative medications and help to track tick borne disease.

So, that’s what Porter and I have learned in the last month. It has been a gross and enlightening experience. Be constantly vigilant. Again, think Newman and Voldemort.



Monica Maxwell's picture

Totally Chantal. I think when he made this his goal he may have been confused about the meaning. . .

Angela Sanchez's picture

I have read the article and I find it informational to know about ticks in your animal. I like how it can give you steps on how to accurately remove the tick from your dog.

makaela Sullens's picture

I thought it was interesting that rubbing alcohol would be the one thing to kill the tick. loved that he said not everything is a 100% effective. Me and my animals go hiking all the time and always worried about ticks it s cool to know that i can just come home and give them along bath to prevent them.

Ash21125@students.broadviewuniversity.edu's picture

I have never had to remove a tick from my dog before but I am very glad that this article includes steps on how to remove them! If i ever come across one on my dog I will now know how to get rid of it!

Hannah Marty's picture

I grew up in tick heaven and one thing we have always done (since where I grew up deer ticks carry anywhere from 1-4 diseases) is remove the tick, and then fold it into clear tape, and put it on our wall calendar on the day we found it attached. That way if any symptoms of tick borne illnesses show up, you have a pretty exact time since bite, and have the tick if your veterinarian or doctor want to check it. It can make for a gross calendar, but in areas where tick borne illnesses are prominent you can get diagnoses, and medication more quickly if you present the tick with your symptoms.

Rachel Medo's picture


That's a great idea and I'm sure has been really helpful in some cases!