Pet owners may be looking forward to the summer when they can spend some quality time in the outdoors with their animals, but this time of the year can also cause some problems. Because dogs spend a great deal of time in the outdoors during summer, this is also the time when they can get parasites. This is why a common headache for pet owners during summer is how to remove a tick from a dog properly
Why Ticks Can Cause Problems
The main reason why you should have ticks removed from your pets is because they can transmit diseases. Lyme disease is probably the most well-known sickness which can be transmitted because of ticks, but that’s not the only one. These parasites can also transmit babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, and other diseases which can affect not just animals but humans as well.
Aside from the diseases and sickness which they can cause because of pathogens, tick infestation of a pet can also lead to other issues. For example, a large number of ticks infesting a dog can suck a large amount of the animal’s blood leading to anemia.There are around 200 tick species which can be found in the United States alone.
There are around 200 tick species which can be found in the United States alone.
Common Tick Removal Myths
Before learning the steps on how to get a tick off a dog, it is crucial to know about the myths or the false beliefs connected with it first. Here are some of the more common myths on how to deal with an embedded tick out there:
Using Nail Polish or Petroleum Jelly
Some pet owners believe that nail polish or petroleum jelly can help in dislodging the ticks by smothering them with these two materials. The problem is that the heads of the ticks remain embedded in the body of the animal. A tick head stuck in dog can be a bigger problem than a whole live one.
Then there are those who believe that burning the ticks with lighted matches will help. Sure, the fire will kill the parasites, but it will also burn the hair of a dog.
There are aerosol-based liquid freezing gels that are available in the market and some pet owners use these on the ticks. While freezing will kill the ticks, the problem is that most pet owners do not have any idea on how long to hold it on. You could just end up spraying and spraying which could harm your pet.
You have probably heard about these myths. Now, you know better and so you would only be using the right methods which have been proven to be effective.
Some Facts about Ticks
It helps to know a few things about what you are dealing with. When you’re having problems with ticks on your pet, it will be useful to know some facts about ticks. Here are a few which will give you an idea as to how tenacious these small pests are:
- A tick has a one-piece body.
- The harpoon-like barbs on its mouth are used for feeding and for attaching to the body of its host.
- Ticks have sticky secretions and crab-like legs which are used for sticking on to the body of the host.
- They range in size from those that are too small to be seen without a microscope to those that are big as the tip of a finger.
- There are around 200 tick species which can be found in the United States alone.
- They can live in different environments including woods, forests, even urban areas, beach, grass, and lawns.
- Ticks can feed on mammals, birds, and even insects if they have to.
- Disease can be transmitted within 3 to 6 hours after a tick bite.
These small facts should give you an idea as to what you are dealing with. As you can see, ticks are quite tenacious though small and they’re everywhere.
The Best Way to Remove Ticks
Experts suggest that the best way to deal with ticks infesting your pets is to remove these by hand, using tweezers or a tick removal tool. A tick remover is a small tool which is specifically designed to dislodge a tick from the body of its host including its host. There are various designs of tick removal tools which are available in the market.
If you are going to use tweezers, it is best to use the ones which are pointed.
One type of tick remover available is similar to a bottle opener. You can slip this device down to the body of the pest and then lift it. That should allow you to pull the tick out including the head.
Aside from tweezers or tick remover, you need the following when you are removing the ticks from your pet:
- Rubbing alcohol
- Antiseptic wipes
- Jar with lid
If you are going to use tweezers, it is best to use the ones which are pointed. Make sure that you have everything with you before you start working on your pet. It’s going to be difficult to deal with a squirming pet while having to look around for the materials you need.
Steps on How to Remove a Tick from a Dog
Here are the steps which you can follow when removing ticks from your pet:
Start by Wearing Your Gloves
It’s important that you wear gloves to do the procedure safely. Remember that ticks can carry diseases which can also affect humans. The infection can be transmitted through breaks in your skin. It’s best to play safe and wear gloves.
Keep Your Pet Calm
Dogs can become nervous because of unusual poking on their bodies. You should expect that they won’t sit still once you start removing ticks from their bodies. So, it is important that you should work on keeping your pet calm.
The best way to keep your pet calm while you get rid of ticks from its body is by having another person holding and keeping it relaxed.
Positioning the Tweezers
If you are going to use tweezers in removing ticks, there is a right way of placing it so it can be effective. You have to grab the tick as close to its head as possible. Placing the tweezer in the middle of the tick’s body could result in it being torn in half with the head being embedded.
You have to be careful not to pinch your pet’s skin. Remember, don’t do this without tweezers.
Pulling Out the Tick
Once you have solid hold on the tick body, the next step is for you pull it out carefully. Apply steady pressure and then start pulling it out with one fluid motion. Do not twist it around because that could result with the head being left behind with the mouthparts still being embedded into the skin.
You should also be careful not to squeeze or crush it. Crushing the tick could let its fluid ooze out which can contain infectious materials. Once you have pulled out the tick, examine it to make sure that you have removed everything including the head. If you see that the head broke off, it would be a good idea to take your pet to the veterinarian.
Killing the Tick
You have to kill the tick right away once you have removed it from your pet. This is where the jar and the rubbing alcohol comes in. Fill the jar with running alcohol. When you have caught a tick, you can drop it straight into the alcohol.
It would be a good idea to keep the jar with the dead ticks in it for a while. In case your pet starts displaying symptoms, having the ticks on hand can be useful in determining the kind of disease that is affecting the animal.
When you pull out a tick from your pet, that will leave behind a small wound. That small wound can become infected if you are not careful. Use antiseptic spray or disinfectant on the spot where you have removed the tick. Monitor it and if it becomes infected, then take your pet to the vet.
Give a Reward to Your Pet
Once you are done with removing ticks from your dog, you should give your pet a treat. Your dog deserves the reward for behaving during the whole procedure.
Monitor Your Pet
Your job doesn’t end taking out ticks from your pet, you also have to keep an eye on your dog over a few weeks. Be on the lookout for some strange symptoms. Here are some of the symptoms which you have to watch out for:
- Reluctance to move
- Loss of appetite
- Swollen lymph nodes
If your dog shows any of these symptoms, it could mean that they have an infection. It is the best to take your pet to the vet right away.
Knowing how to remove a tick from a dog is a task that any responsible pet owner should know. If you really care about your pets, you should know the proper way of taking care of them and not just do things in a haphazard way, which can cause more problems later on.