It's not uncommon for Chihuahuas to pick up ticks when they are running and playing outside. Once a tick falls into their fur, it will bite down and begin feasting on the Chihuahua's blood. Ticks will fall off in 2-4 days when they are full of blood, but most veterinarians advise owners to remove ticks manually. If you've noticed a tick on your Chihuahua, remove it by following the steps listed here.
Allowing a tick to remain on your Chihuahua will leave them vulnerable to disease and infection. Lyme disease (Lyme borreliosis) is one such disease that's transmitted to both dogs and humans through tick bites. Although transmission only occurs in about 1% of bites, Lyme disease is both painful and dangerous, especially in a small Chihuahua. The good news is that you can drastically reduce the chance of infection by removing ticks from your Chihuahua within 24 hours of attachment.
Inspect Your Chihuahua For Ticks
Check your Chihuahua for ticks by slowly running your hand against their fur so you can see their skin. If you run your hands across a tick, it will likely feel like a small, hard bump. Perform a close inspection of any bumps you find to determine whether or not it's a tick (see image to the left). Ticks are small arachnids, meaning they have 8 legs, and they are usually either black or brown in color.
Some Chihuahuas -- especially the smooth-coat varieties -- are easier to check for ticks than others. A visual inspection is oftentimes enough to identify ticks lingering on a smooth-coat Chihuahua. For long-coat varieties, though, you need to run your hands through their fur to feel for any ticks. A grooming brush or comb may also help with identifying ticks on your Chihuahua.
Step #1 - Preparation
Before you start pulling and tugging away at the tick, you'll need to gather some items. Gather a pair of tweezers, some latex gloves and some triple antibiotic ointment. Also, fill a disposable cup with a couple inches of isopropyl rubbing alcohol (used to kill the tick). Make sure all of these items are in place and proceed to the next step.
Step #2 - Removal
Sit down in a well lit room and gently pull back your Chihuahua's fur to locate the tick. Use your tweezers to grab the tick's head as close to your Chihuahua's skin as possible. Ticks forcefully attach themselves to their host, so you'll need to clamp down hard with the tweezers to remove it. With their head clamped in the tweezers, pull the tick directly out and away from your Chihuahua's body. Don't jerk or twist the tick, but instead pull it directly out in a straight motion.
Step #3 - Disposal
Contrary to what some people may believe, flushing a tick down the toilet does not always kill it. Rather than flushing your tick down the toilet or throwing it in the trash, place it inside a disposable cup of isopropyl rubbing alcohol, which will kill it within seconds. Please remember to only use a disposable cup to avoid spreading germs into your normal drinking cups. Let the tick sit in the rubbing alcohol for at least 20-30 minutes before flushing it down the toilet.
Step #4 - Cleaning & Rewarding
Once you've removed the tick from your Chihuahua, cover the wound with a small amount of triple antibiotic ointment. You can expect the area to remain red and slightly swollen for up to 2 weeks, but using antibiotic ointment will speed up the healing process while reducing the chance of infection. However, you should only use a very small amount, as some Chihuahuas may attempt to lick it off.
Lastly, give your Chihuahua a treat as a reward for everything they've endured. Removing ticks from a Chihuahua is typically painless, but it's still a traumatizing experience that they don't fully understand. Rewarding them afterwards with a treat will make them forget about this unpleasant experience.
Tick Warnings and Tips For Chihuahua Owners:
- Closely monitor the tick bite area over the next 2 weeks for signs of infection.
- Soak the tweezers in a 'fresh' cup of rubbing alcohol after removing the tick.
- Baby ticks are as small as the tip of a pen.
- Products such as FrontLine Plus is effective at killing both fleas and ticks.
- Don't attempt to remove ticks with a hot match, as this will only encourage it to bite down harder while secreting more saliva into your Chihuahua.
- Never pull a tick from your Chihuahua using your bare hands. Instead, use a pair of tweezers or a tick removal tool.