Living in North Carolina our guess is that with as many wooded areas as we have, that even if you keep your dog current on flea and tick preventative, that you have experienced a tick or two. If you are one of the few who has not experienced your dog (or yourself) getting a tick then consider yourself lucky! These little guys can be hard to get rid of!
Pulling A Tick Off Your Dog
Flea and tick preventatives are excellent at keeping your pet free from ticks year round; however, once in a while a sneaky one gets through and you find yourself eye to eye with a tick. Removing ticks can be a tricky business because improper removal can result in mouth parts being left behind at the site of the bite. If the mouth parts of the tick are left this can result in infection of the bite site so it is important to remove the tick as cleanly as possible. It is also important to remove the tick as soon as possible, to avoid infection of the bite site and to reduce the chance of contraction of potential disease.
Tick Removal Tools
If you live in a heavily wooded area or have a dog that is frequently outside and in the longer grass during the warmer months then we recommend investing in a specialized tick removal product. These products can be purchased online or at most large name pet stores and come in many different forms including wipes and small plastic tools. In fact for pet owners who are less confident in their ability to remove a tick even once, we recommend having one of these tools on hand.
Using Tweezers to Remove a Tick
If you do not have one of these tools on hand, however, you can always use a pair of tweezers to remove a tick carefully.
The following instructions are provided by the ASPCA for at home tick removal:
Step-by-Step Tick Removal Instructions
Step 1—Prepare its Final Resting Place
Throwing a tick in the trash or flushing it down the toilet will not kill it, and it’s actually best to hold on to it for awhile for veterinary testing in case your pet falls ill from the bite. Be ready with somewhere to put the tick after you’ve removed it—the best option is a screw-top jar containing some rubbing alcohol.
Step 2—Don’t Bare-Hand It
Put on latex or rubber gloves so you’ll never have direct contact with the tick or your pet’s bite area. Ticks can carry infective agents that may enter your bloodstream through breaks in your skin or through mucous membranes (if you touch your eyes, nostrils or mouth).
Step 3—Grab a Partner
You don’t want your pet squirming away before you’re finished, so if possible, have a helper on hand to distract, soothe or hold her still.
Step 4—The Removal
Treat the bite area with rubbing alcohol and, using a pair of tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the animal’s skin as possible. Pull straight upwards with steady, even pressure. Place the tick in your jar.
- Do not twist or jerk the tick! This may leave the mouth-parts embedded in your pet, or cause the tick to regurgitate infective fluids.
- Do not squeeze or crush the body of the tick, because its fluids (saliva and gut contents) may contain infective organisms.
Step 5—All that Remains
Sometimes, in spite of doing everything right, a tick’s mouth-parts will get left behind in your pet’s skin. If the area doesn’t appear red or inflamed, the best thing to do is to disinfect it and not to try to take the mouth-parts out. A warm compress to the area might help the body expel them, but do not go at it with tweezers.
Step 6—Clean Up
Thoroughly disinfect the bite site and wash your hands with soap and water (even though you were wearing gloves). Sterilize your tweezers with alcohol or by carefully running them over a flame.
Step 7—Keep Watch
Over the next few weeks, closely monitor the bite area for any signs of localized infection. If the area is already red and inflamed or becomes so later, please bring your pet—and your jarred tick—to your veterinarian for evaluation.
If you have any questions or hesitations about removing a tick from your dog, come by Leesville Animal Hospital and allow one of our technicians to show you how it’s done!