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For something so small, ticks can be a big threat to your pet’s health. Though certain geographical locations where once thought to be relatively safe from tick infestation, PetMD reports tick distribution varies with species and continues to change over time. No matter where you live, your pets are at risk for ticks.

Tick-Borne Diseases

Ticks are more than just an irritation; some transmit serious diseases, often within 48 hours after contact. Tick-borne diseases most commonly found in the U.S. include:

  • Lyme disease
  • Canine Ehrlichiosis
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
  • Canine Anaplosmosis or Dog Tick Fever
  • Canine Bartonellosis
  • Canine Hepatozoonosis
  • Canine Babesiosis

Symptoms of tick-borne diseases in pets usually begin to appear between 7 and 21 days after being bit, and range from mild fatigue and fever to severe muscle pain, and even death. Yet, the health threat is not limited to the four-legged members of your family; some tick-borne diseases also spread to humans. The use of a topical tick preventive is the first step in protecting your dog or cat, but not the only one. Regularly checking your pets for ticks is an important part of keeping them healthy.

Check for Tick Bites & Ticks

Carrington College’s veterinary program suggests tick checks should be done each time your pet comes in from the outdoors. If you have an active pet that goes outdoors several times a day, that may not be possible.  However, looking for ticks takes only a few minutes and is easy to accomplish once every few days. Make the exam part of your regular grooming or petting time. Simply run your fingers over the animal’s body feeling for small bumps. Pay special attention to the “armpits,” the space between their toes, inside the ears and around the face and chin.

If you find a tick on your pet – don’t panic . You can safely remove a tick if you follow certain precautions as outlined below. Upon removal, make sure to monitor your pet for any signs of tick-borne disease and check the site of the tick bite for for infection. Be sure to contact your veterinarian to schedule an exam for your pet.

How to Check for and Remove Ticks

The first step in removing ticks is to know what to look for.  Remember, ticks can be black, brown, or tan.  Some species of ticks can be tiny, while others may be a bit more visible to the naked eye.  Be sure to perform this check every time your pet comes in from the outdoors.

Step One: Use your Hands

Start by running your fingers over your pet's body.  Be sure to check between toes, inside armpits, and even inside or around ears.  

Step Two: Inspect Bumps

If you feel a small lump or bump, attempty to part the furusing your fingers, and shine a light to get a closer look.

Step Three: You Found a Tick

If you found a tick, remain calm.  You'll need gloves, tweezers, antiseptic and Isopropyl alcohol.

Step Four: Tick Removal

Put on your rubber gloves, and use the tweezers to grab the tick as close to your pet's skin as you can.  Do your pest not to pinch the skin, as this could rupture the tick, or cause your pet to try and run. When you have a good grip on the tick, slowly pull outward.  You dont want the tick to split, or to leave any pieces of it behind. 

Step Five: Tick Disposal

The next step is to drop the tick into a small, sealable cup.  If you wish, you can take this cup to the vet to have it tested.

Step Six: Cleaning

The last step is to apply antiseptic to the area and ensure it is clean.

That's it!  Remember to keep an eye out for any potential signs or symptoms of tick-borne illness, and keep in close communication with your vet should any problems arise.

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.