Nothing is more unpleasant than stroking your pet and finding that they have a tick buried in their skin. However, you can’t just leave the horrible creature in place – so how do you go about pulling it off safely?
Why Remove Ticks?
Apart from the fact that ticks are parasites and may cause your pet discomfort, they also carry blood-borne illnesses which could have potentially serious consequences for your pet. Removing them safely will ensure that your dog is at minimal risk of illness.
Here, we go through the five simple steps to safely pull that tick from your dog’s skin to make the process as easy as possible.
Remove the Tick
If you see a tick walking on your pet, this is the best-case scenario. While it’s fairly disgusting to see a parasitic creature walking all over your four-legged friend, it’s best to remove it before it buries itself properly in the skin. Grab the tick either in your fingers or in a tissue if you don’t like the idea of touching it.
If the tick has already become attached to your dog, you’ll have to pull it out of the skin, but getting its head safely out is essential. There are several types of tick remover that you can buy in stores – follow the directions given on their packaging, and you should have no problems.
If you haven’t got a tick-removing tool to hand, no worries – tweezers are just as effective, although not as easy to use. Use the tweezers to grip the creature’s head as near the skin as you can the pull slowly and with steady pressure. If you tear too quickly, you could find that the tick’s head remains behind in the skin, and that could leave your pet at risk of infection.
Once you’ve removed the tick, flush it down the toilet, drown it in a cup of water, or put it in a sealed container in the trash. You don’t want it getting loose and getting back onto your pet. You may want to save it in a jar to show your vet as they could test it for Lyme Disease.
Ticks are also known to let go when touched with a lit cigarette or other extremely hot objects; however, we don’t recommend this option to keep you and your pet safe.
Clean the Area
You can use an alcohol cleansing wipe or even just soap and water to clean the wound site. This will help to guard against infections.
Check to See if There is Another Tick
If there’s one tick on your pet, there’s a chance that there could be another one or even several. First, check your pet’s whole body to see if there are any more ticks – some common places for them to hide include the armpits, ears, and face. If you have a longhaired pet, use a fine-toothed comb to catch any large ticks. You should also check your own body and any of your other pets who were with you at the time.
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Reviewing Preventative Measures
The best way to deal with tick infestations is to prevent them from happening in the first place. So first, make sure your pet is regularly on a tick and flea preventative. You can choose from collars, oral treatments, or topicals – whichever suits your pet best. If your dog is already using a preventative treatment and you’re still seeing more ticks on your pet, switch to another brand or type of treatment.
You might want to discuss the best flea treatment for your dog with your vet before you pick a product to ensure you’re making the right choice. Many preventatives won’t repel the ticks, but they will quickly kill them once they bite. Since ticks need to stay attached to your dog’s skin for some time before any diseases can be transmitted, killing it quickly will reduce the risk.
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Get Some Blood Work Done
Since it takes a few weeks for most tick-borne diseases to be picked up on a blood test, you don’t need to rush off to take your pet to the vet unless he begins to show any signs of being unwell. Some of the signs to look for include lameness, lethargy and fever.
If you live somewhere where ticks are found in large numbers, you should screen for tick-borne illnesses when your dog goes to his annual veterinary appointment so you can catch any issues before they turn into a problem. If your pet does seem to be unwell, remember to tell your vet that he has had a tick bite.
- Ryan Llera, BSc, DVM, Ticks in Dogs, VCA
- Carrie Sloan, How to Properly Remove Ticks: Common Myths and Foolproof Methods, Vetstreet
- Fleas and Ticks, ASPCA