It is important to remove a tick the right way to prevent tick-borne illness in pets

If you live in the mid-Atlantic region, you know that it’s always tick season. In the autumn, many of our clients and their pets are still happily taking advantage of the crisp days by spending time outdoors. We know that ticks are something to prevent, but have you ever had to safely remove a tick? If not, we have some tips and tricks for you to make this process relatively easy.

The Problem With Ticks

There are four tick species in our area that humans and dogs encounter: the Lone Star tick, the brown dog tick, the American dog tick, and the deer tick. Most of us know that tick bites are painful and uncomfortable. Did you know that they are also dangerous?

Ticks can transmit disease to dogs and humans with their bites, so it’s important to remove them as soon as possible. Diseases are only transmitted 24-48 hours after a tick bites and attaches to your pet so swift action is required. Some of the diseases they carry are:

  • Lyme disease
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Anaplasmosis

Luckily, tick bites can be prevented with year round use of a monthly preventive. Ask us what may be right for your dog based on her breed, age, and lifestyle. It’s also important to clear brush and yard debris from your property (where ticks live and breed) and to examine your dog for ticks (and remove them) each time they spend time outdoors.

Learning how to safely remove a tick can actually prevent disease, but if your dog is at risk for tick borne diseases, ask us about annual blood testing that can help us identify if he’s been exposed. Tick borne diseases are treatable, but they are difficult to diagnose and can be painful and debilitating. By catching tick borne diseases early, we can treat your pet more effectively and for less cost.

How to Safely Remove a Tick

Here’s a step by step guide for how to safely remove a tick.

  • Use fine tipped tweezers or a tick removal tool
  • Wear latex gloves to prevent disease exposure
  • Spread your dog’s fur so you can see their skin
  • Gently grasp the tick’s body as close as possible to the skin
  • Very gently pull straight up in a slow, steady motion
  • Don’t twist the tick as you may detach the head, leaving it imbedded in your dog’s body

It’s a good idea to keep the tick in a lidded container so that if you need to have it tested for disease, you can. Disinfect all tools after tick removal as well as your dog’s skin. Wash your hands well.

Observe your dog well for any signs of tick borne disease, and schedule an appointment as soon as possible if you notice any of these common signs of disease:

  • Body and/or joint pain
  • Fever
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite

4 Myths of Tick Removal

There are common myths about tick removal. Here’s why not to remove a tick using these methods.

Paint the tick with nail polish, petroleum jelly a common myth is that painting a tick with these products will cause it to back out of your dog. However, your goal is to remove the tick as soon as possible to prevent disease, not wait for it to detach.

Freezing the tick off this method can be risky to your pet’s skin, and what’s more, it doesn’t work. Usually, the tick’s head stays imbedded in your dog, putting him at risk for infection.

Burning the tick off lighting a match and holding it close to your dog’s fur is the very definition of playing with fire. This is dangerous to your dog, as he could get burned, or worse, set on fire. Simply not safe!
The team at Godspeed Animal Care are experts at tick removal, so if you’d rather come in to have us remove the tick in the office, please call us. We also have tick removal tools available for purchase which are handy to have for home use. If you have specific questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us – we’re here to help!