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How to Remove a Tick

Petfinder Staff

Five Facts about Ticks

  1. Ticks are most prevalent in the Northeast and Upper Midwest parts of the United States.
  2. Ticks usually leave an animal on their own when they are full, but this can often be after several days.
  3. There are over 850 tick species, about 100 of which are capable of transmitting diseases. Five of these species are common to the United States.
  4. Lyme disease is caused by the transmission of the bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi which lives in infected blacklegged ticks. Typical symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, headache, fatigue, and a skin rash. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.
  5. The American dog tick does not carry Lyme disease, but can carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which is transmittable to both dogs and humans, and can be fatal.

Everyone can agree on one thing that makes our skin crawl: ticks. An unpleasant reality of pet ownership, ticks are a danger to both our health and that of our pets.

Were going to show you how to remove the pesky critters if you should find one, however tick prevention is the best line of defense. Since ticks can appear on a warm day in any season, year-round protection can safeguard you and your pet. While flea and tick collars have not proven effective, there are other options with varying degrees of effectiveness. Topical products such as Frontline get applied to your dog once a month and offer a relatively safe and easy solution to ticks.

After your dog has been anywhere outside where ticks lurkin fields, woods, and even in your back yard, make sure to do a head-to-toe scan of her body for ticks. Ticks like to hide in the obscure places, such as in or behind the ears, between toes and on the underbelly. Check your dog thoroughly and as soon as your dog comes in from outside in the hopes that you can remove ticks before they dig into the skin and become imbedded.

If youre lucky enough to find a tick that has not imbedded and is still moving around on your dogs skin, it can be easily removed with your fingers or with tweezers and then disposed of safely (see Disposal bullet below).

But chances are you wont be so lucky, the tick will be imbedded, or firmly attached to your dogs skin. Here are a few tips on how to remove a tick, completely and safely.

  • Prepare: Dab the tick and close-surrounding areas with rubbing alcohol. Use fine-tipped tweezers or a notched tick extractor, and protect your fingers with a tissue, paper towel, or latex gloves.
  • Get Ready: Using whatever is most comfortable for you (tweezers, tissue or a tick remover tool), grasp the ticks body close to the pets skin as possible (while being careful not to catch any skin).
  • Go: Slowly and firmly, pull the tick straight out of the skin without squeezing. Pulling too fast can decapitate the tick, leaving the head imbedded in your dog. Squeezing can release the icky fluids inside the tick into your dogs body.
  • Disposal: The tick should either be flushed down the toilet or dunked into rubbing alcohol. Disposal is very important so that the tick does not reappear on your pet or you.
  • After care: Clean the affected area with alcohol and apply antibacterial ointment to the area. You should see a small hole where the tick was. Watch this area for the next few days to ensure infection does not set in.

A very small tick could be a deer tick. If you can, save it in alcohol and bring it to your veterinarian. Deer ticks often carry Lyme disease and, if you find one, there are likely more where it came from and you should consider vaccination as an option.

Regardless of tick type, note the date of the bite. Tick-related illness can take some time to show up, so that date will be useful if illness occurs.

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