Some folks say that the best way to remove ticks from dogs is to use petroleum jelly in an effort to suffocate the critters. Others recommend more drastic measures such as freezing or burning these pests alive. Still, there are those who say that applying nail polish onto ticks will easily remove these pesky ectoparasites off of our dogs. These are just some of the many methods of removing ticks. Unfortunately, these are all myths that not only defy common sense, but also put our dogs in danger. So how do you really remove ticks from your furry, four-legged friend?
Ticks carry disease-causing microorganisms such as Borrelia burgdorferi (causative agent of Lyme disease), Ehrlichiosis canis (Ehrlichiosis), Anaplasma phagoycytophilium or A. platys (Anaplasmosis), Rickettsia rickettsi (Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever), Hepatozoon canis and H. americanum (American Canine Hepatozoonosis), and Babesia microti (Babesiosis).
Keep in mind that the tick will latch onto your dog’s skin and start drawing its blood. This parasitic organism thrives on your dog’s blood. Unfortunately, it also transmits whatever is found in its system to your dog. That being said, the first 24 to 36 hours after your dog has been bitten by a tick is crucial. The longer that the tick is latched onto your dog’s skin, the more disease-causing germs are being transmitted to your dog.
As such, it is important to check your dog’s skin every single day for signs of these pests. You only have 24 hours to make it really count.
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Pick the Right Tool
Everything starts with the right tool. And when we are talking about removing a pest that has its mouth parts deeply embedded into your dog’s skin, it is crucial that we use only the right tool for the job. The critical thing to remember here is that the tick will have its teeth or mouth parts injected into the skin of your dog. You’d have to be careful not to decapitate it that its mouth parts are left within your dog’s skin. When you remove the tick, you need to remove all of it in one fluid motion. And for that you will need one of two highly specialized tools.
The first one is a pair of tweezers that are designed specifically for removing ticks. If you cannot find one, them use one of those thumb forceps that should look more like narrow-tipped tweezers. These are your first choice when it comes to picking and removing ticks off of your pet.
Alternatively, you can purchase one of those so-called tick removers. These are small gadgets that have a small hole at the tip where you insert the tick’s body, slide it all the way towards the head, and pry the tick from the skin of your dog. A lot of pet parents like this contraption since they can easily secure it in their key chain so they can remove ticks from their dogs anytime. These tick removers function more like your bottle openers, except that it’s the tick’s head and mouth parts that are pried loose from the skin of the dog and not a bottle cap.
Get Everything Organized
Once you’ve picked the right tool for removing ticks, it’s time to prepare everything else.
Never underestimate the importance of gloves. Don’t use the gloves you use for doing your laundry. Instead, purchase one of those surgical gloves they use in hospitals. Make sure you are not allergic to latex, however. The reason why you need to use tweezers or even tick removers is so that you will not have to use your bare hands in removing these pests. Doing so may squish the tick and spill its blood into your fingers. Remember, this pest carry microorganisms that are not only harmful to your pet, but can also wreak havoc in you. That is why wearing gloves is very important.
You will also need rubbing alcohol that has been poured in a glass jar with lid. This is where you will dump the ticks that you will be removing from your dog.
Antiseptic wipes may also be needed to help care for the bite site. Or you can also use rubbing alcohol in cleansing the site of the bite afterwards. Tincture of iodine or even plain water and mild soap will also suffice. Prepare only what you are going to use.
It is also best to prepare the area where you will be removing the ticks. It is best to place your dog in a well-ventilated and well-lit room so you can easily visualize the ticks. Alternatively, you can use one of those portable torches that can be mounted onto a headband. You can also use a droplight so you can focus one section at a time. As much as possible, choose a room where it’s quiet and free from distractions.
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Prepare Your Pet
While your dog should be thankful you’re removing ticks from its skin, this is not necessarily the case. Not all dogs like to lie down and have their body ‘explored’. As such, you may want to employ the assistance of someone else in soothing and keeping your dog calm while you’re busy looking for and removing ticks from its body.
A good trick is to schedule the tick removal session when your dog is calm and well-rested. Some pet parents have found walking their dog about 30 minutes prior to the tick removal session to be especially helpful. Some will play with their dogs just so it will not have energy left by the time they put it on the table for the ticks to be removed. You can look for other ways to reduce your dog’s energy levels or at least calm it down.
When you’re ready to remove ticks, systematically part your dog’s hair. It is best to go through your dog’s skin one section at a time. This is to make sure that you will cover every square inch of your pet’s body. Some may actually have luck running their fingers slowly over their dog’s body, feeling for ‘lumps’ that may signal the presence of ticks.
Once you have identified where the tick is, you need to carefully part every single strand of hair around the tick using your fingers (with your gloves on, of course). Try to visualize where the tick’s head, although it doesn’t really have a ‘head’ in the strictest sense of the word.
If you’re using tweezers, grasp the tick by the head which is the section that is closest to the skin of the dog. Make sure to never pinch the skin as this will hurt your dog. Also make sure to apply just the right amount of pressure on the tweezers so you don’t inadvertently squish the tick and spill its blood onto your dog’s skin.
In one slow, gentle, and steady motion, pull your tweezers straight upwards so that the tick’s mouth will not break off. This will help prevent its mouth parts from being left in the dog’s skin.
If you’re using a tick remover, all you need to do is to slide the tick remover as close as possible to the dog’s skin aiming for the tick’s head. Just keep on sliding in the same direction until the tick comes out.
Make sure to inspect the tick after removal. Look for protrusions in its head as these are its mouth parts. If you cannot see any, there’s a great chance these mouth parts are still embedded in your dog’s skin. While these will eventually fall off after a few days, you should still bring your dog to the vet so that the mouth parts can be removed. It is always safer to assume that harmful microorganisms are still present in these mouth parts. If you wait for them to fall off, then you are only giving the germs more time to be transmitted to your dog.
Kill the Pest
Make sure you have your glass jar with alcohol ready. Have your assistant open the jar’s lid for you and dump the tick into the alcohol. No matter how tempting it might be, don’t ever squish the pest. Again, this will expel its blood and other body fluids that contain harmful microorganisms.
Care for the Bite Site
You should always disinfect the site of the bite wound. You can either spray an antiseptic or rub the area with an antiseptic wipe. Alternatively, you can get cotton balls and moisten it with either tincture of iodine or alcohol. This is just to help make sure that you’ve killed the microorganisms that may have been left behind by the tick’s mouth parts.
Wrap it Up
Keep on removing ticks from your dog’s body and put them into the glass jar with alcohol. When you’re done, you can easily dump this into your toilet bowl and give it a good flush.
Don’t forget to praise your canine friend for behaving well during the removal of ticks. Give it treats or perhaps even play with it as a reward.
Removing ticks from your furry friend is not that difficult. You only need the right tools, the right techniques, and a positive frame of mind to get these pests off your pet.