Guide to Tick Removal from Dogs
Ticks and fleas, are pesky parasites that feed on warm blooded creatures, such as our pets. We've been in a constant battle with them for centuries and continuing. Control and prevention of ticks is extremely important in reducing the risk of disease associated with ticks. This includes removing the ticks as soon as possible and trying to prevent attachment.
Know the Enemy!
Ticks are not insects. They belong to the same class as mites, Acarina. Ticks are primary the most important to worry about in conjunction with disease transmission.
Ticks are divided into 3 different families. Only 2 of these families are present in the US, the Ixodidae (hard tick) family and the Argasidae (soft tick) family. Within the Ixodidae, there are about 60 different species that have been reported in the US. Within the Argasidae family, there are about 20 reported US species.
There are 4 stages in the life cycle of a tick:
This life cycle can be completed within 2 months. The larvae, nymph and adults all feed on blood. After a feeding, the tick falls from the feeding source and the larva will molt to a nymph. The nymph will then molt to an adult and the female adult will lay eggs. Male ticks ingest far less blood than females.
Ticks find prey by heat sensors. They attach themselves by first clinging to clothing or fur or falling from trees onto the object when they sense heat. The tick then migrates to an area that has little hair, commonly the ears,
skin around the ears, or lips and lock itself in place and starts feeding until the meal is completed. Afterwards, the adult female tick will find shelter and lay her eggs and die.
Removing the Tick
1. To remove an attached tick, use a pair of fine-tipped tweezers or special tick removal instruments. This is important, because you do not want to crush the tick and force harmful bacteria to leave the tick and enter the pet's bloodstream. Do not touch the tick since diseases can be transmitted. Consider wearing gloves when removing a tick.
2. With a tweezers or tick removal device, grab the tick as close to the head as possible. Do not grasp the tick by the body. Without jerking, pull firmly and steadily directly outward. Do not twist the tick as you are pulling. Frequently, pieces of skin may come off with the tick.
3. If the head of the tick remains in the skin, try to grab it and remove as much as possible. It is not life threatening if you are unable to remove the entire head. Your pet's immune system will try to dislodge the head by creating a site of infection or even a small abscess. If you are concerned, contact your family veterinarian.
4. After removing the tick, place it in a jar of alcohol to kill it. Flushing them down the toilet will not kill them.
5. Clean the bite wound with a disinfectant. If you want to, apply a small amount of a triple antibiotic ointment.
6. Wash your hands thoroughly.