There are many things I love about spring. The flowers, the green, the shiba that feverishly feels the need to pee on everything on our walks to "make it mine". The re-earthing of the wood tick is not one of those things. I looked down again at that peaceful, lazy shiba laying on my lap and knew he was the vermin that brought this unwanted guest into my home.
The beautiful and lush red or black and tan coat of a shiba make for an excellent hiding place for ticks, fleas, and other revolting friends that love to invade our homes and wreak havok on our beloved critters. Some species of ticks carry harmful diseases that can be potentially fatal to your dog. When the ticks get hungry (and spring time is an excellent time to feed) they may hop on your dog for a ride and take a little nibble while they are at it. It is important to both use a preventative AND check your dog periodically for any unwanted hitchhikers.
According to an article by Jennifer Kvam, DVM on PetMD these are the appropriate steps to checking your furry friend for ticks (or other disgusting, unwanted visitors).
- Starting at the head, run your hands over the dog’s body, checking under the collar, and using your fingers like the teeth of a comb, thoroughly check all of the body, making sure to look under the tail and around the anus. Ticks are drawn to the dark, hidden areas on the body, so be sure to check between the toes, as well as inside the groin and front legs (armpits).
- You are feeling for something about the size of a small pea. You may also want to use a brush or flea comb to check through the dog’s fur, stopping if you hit a bump or snag. Do not pull or force the comb over the bump, stop to see what the bump is before proceeding (pulling part of the tick’s body out can be damaging). You will also want to check the skin for areas that appear red or irritated, and watch your dog for any signs of excessive scratching or licking in any particular areas. This can be a sign that a tick has attached itself to the skin in this spot.
- The ears are another particularly attractive area for ticks to lodge, as they are dark, moist, and hidden. Check the ears thoroughly, inside and out, during every inspection. If your dog is shaking his head continuously and you can’t see anything in the outer ear canal, your veterinarian can inspect the inner canal of the ear more closely with a special instrument (otoscope).
Needless to say, this unwanted tick reminded me that it was that time of year to make a trip to the vet for a heartworm test, and to purchase some flea/tick meds and heartworm preventative. Luckily it's a short and relatively inexpensive visit...cheaper than if your shiba were to actually contract heartworm, fleas, or any of the other parasitic diseases carried by these things.
So, if you haven't yet - please take a minute to get your beloved shiba in for a check, and pick up some of those preventatives while you're at it. No one likes a creepy-crawler!
And, I didn't forget the Adorable Beast that was due this week...In honor of our wood-tick chaperoning shiba Guiness's 7th birthday - here is our favorite picture of him!
Guiness about 6 months old (Bayfield, WI)