How to remove ticks from pets is one of the top questions I get, never more so than now as ticks and tick diseases are spreading into parts of the country where they didn’t have much of a presence before. Here’s the advice I gave a reader.
Q: Ugh! I found a tick on my dog. How do I get it off?
A: Very carefully. Ticks spread a number of diseases, including Lyme, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and ehrlichiosis, so you want to protect yourself and your dog when you take steps to remove them.
You may have discovered a tick accidentally when running your hand through a pet’s fur, but the best tactic is to search diligently for them any time you and your dog have been in tick-infested areas. Place your dog on a white towel, and go over him with a fine-tooth comb to check for any little bumps that might actually be feeding ticks. Unless they’re bloated with blood, they can be tiny — the size of a sesame seed — so keep a sharp eye out.
Have tweezers or a tick removal device at hand. If you find one of these blood-sucking arachnids, grasp it firmly with tweezers as close to the head as possible and pull straight up. The goal is to remove the tick’s body and mouth parts. Wear disposable gloves or wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after removing the tick. Place the tick on a strip of double-sided tape or a sticky lint roller so it can’t escape while you search for others, or immediately drop it into a container filled with rubbing alcohol for instant death.
What not to do: Don’t try to burn the tick off or smother it with Vaseline. Don’t think that bathing your dog will remove ticks; it won’t. Don’t flush or put it into the trash; ticks are survivors and will come back to haunt you if you don’t kill them — and flushing doesn’t kill them.
Do talk to your veterinarian about the best tick preventive measures for your pet’s lifestyle.
There’s more in Pet Connection, the weekly nationally syndicated pet feature I co-write with Kim Campbell Thornton and my daughter, trainer Mikkel Becker.