Ticks and other parasites are a creepy crawly fact of life for our pets, especially during the warm spring and summer months. Blood-sucking ticks pose a particularly troublesome hazard due to their ability to spread potentially deadly diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, and Ehrlichia to our pets.
Learning the techniques of pet tick removal, as well as finding and preventing ticks in the first place, are crucial to the health and safety of your pet.
How To Spot A Tick On Your Pet
If your pet spends even a small amount of time outdoors, a tick check should be a part of your daily pet care routine. Run your fingers over your pet’s entire body including between the toes, inside the ears, under the armpits, and all around the face and chin. If you notice any lumps or bumps, look to see if it’s a tick.
A tick will be brown, black, or tan and have eight legs (yes, it’s an arachnid). Some ticks are large enough to see easily and some are very tiny, so be sure to look carefully.
Proper Pet Tick Removal
Fortunately, pet tick removal is relatively simple:
- Using a clean pair of tweezers, grasp the tick as close to your pet’s skin as possible (try not to pinch the skin).
- Pull the tick straight outward in a steady motion. Make sure you’ve removed the whole tick, since anything left in could cause an infection.
- Submerge the tick in a small container of isopropyl alcohol to kill and preserve it (see below). Flushing the tick or attempting to throw it away will not guarantee death. Likewise, burning the tick (while effective) releases toxic fumes.
If your pet begins to show signs of a tick borne illness such as fever, fatigue, swollen joints, lameness, reluctance to move, or loss of appetite, bring your pet in to see us. Don’t forget to bring the preserved tick if possible, as we may need it for identification purposes.
What Not To Do
Myths abound when it comes to tick removal; burning them off, painting them with nail polish, dousing them with olive oil, petroleum jelly or even gasoline are among the most common ideas. These techniques are not only ineffective (ticks won’t voluntarily “back out” of your pet’s skin once embedded) they can be dangerous (you should never light a match near your pet’s fur, for obvious reasons).
If you are having difficulty removing a tick, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We can talk you through it, or suggest that you bring your pet in for professional assistance.
Prevention Is Key
While it’s not possible to 100% prevent your pet from ever picking up a tick, there are a few things you can do to lower the chances:
- Keep your pet on a year-round flea and tick preventive medication. If you haven’t started your pet on a preventive yet or need a refill, give us a call.
- Ticks love to hide in tall vegetation, so keep the grass, trees, and bushes in your yard trimmed and avoid walking your pet in heavily wooded or grassy areas during the spring and summer.
- Wild animals often harbor ticks, so take steps to keep them out of your yard.
Proper and prompt pet tick removal is essential to the health and safety of your pet.