GRAPHIC PHOTOS: Protect your dog from ticks

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(Source: Thatreec Charoenpornpimongul via 123RF) (Source: Thatreec Charoenpornpimongul via 123RF)
(Source: Arizona Animal Welfare League) (Source: Arizona Animal Welfare League)
(Source: Arizona Animal Welfare League) (Source: Arizona Animal Welfare League)
(Source: Arizona Animal Welfare League) (Source: Arizona Animal Welfare League)
(Source: Arizona Animal Welfare League) (Source: Arizona Animal Welfare League)

They're small, gross and can do more than cause discomfort for your pet.

Ticks can spread disease and experts say you can expect to see more of them during the monsoon.

"When we get a lot of moisture and the monsoons, they (the ticks) kind of get displaced so you start to see them more and more in your house, crawling on your dogs, things like that, because they obviously don't want to drown out in the monsoon so they try to get away," said Dr. Matthew Goetz, the medical director at Arizona Animal Welfare League.

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Goetz urges owners to take the time to check their dogs for ticks every time they step outside and come back into the house.

"When your dog comes in from being outside, some things you want to look for, you want to flip up his ears, check around the muzzle, and the ticks really like to hide in the paws," he explained

If left untreated, your dog may get a fever, become lethargic or have joint issues, he added.

"It can cause pretty serious clinical disease if they have a pretty bad infection," Goetz said. "I, unfortunately, have had dogs pass away due to really bad tick disease."

Ticks carry a variety of diseases, including Lyme diseaseehrlichiosisanaplasmosisRocky Mountain spotted fever, according to Sometimes one tick can carry multiple diseases.

"What’s common among all vector-borne disease, however, is that symptoms can be vague and difficult to recognize," explains. "Often many pet owners don’t know their dog is suffering from a debilitating tick disease until it’s too late."

To prevent ticks from making their home in your dog's fur, he stressed for owners to keep up with monthly flea and tick treatments.

If you do find ticks in your dog's fur, Goetz said you can remove the bugs with your fingers or tweezers and place them in a rubbing alcohol to kill them. Be careful to avoid coming into contact with the tick's blood.

Keep a close eye on your dog and if anything seems off, take him to your vet as soon as possible. Be sure to tell him or her about the tick bite(s) and where the dog picked up the ticks.

CDC: How to remove a tick

"1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible.

"2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don't twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.

"3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.

"4. Dispose of a live tick by submersing [sic] it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.

"Avoid folklore remedies such as 'painting' the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly, or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin," the CDC advises. "Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible -- not waiting for it to detach."
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