The Do’s & Don’ts of Removing Ticks from Your Pets!
Ticks are small external parasites that live on the blood of small mammals and are closely related to spiders. There are four stages to a tick’s life-cycle: egg, larva, nymph, and adult. To the naked eye the larvae look like minute pale spiders, not much bigger than a full stop. Nymphs are slightly larger, pinhead or poppy seed size. Larvae have six legs and nymphs and adults eight. Small nymphs feed on small mammals and the adults on larger mammals such as dogs.
Ticks are very good at passing on infections from one animal to another. They feed by biting an animal and feasting on blood. This may take several days. Ticks transmit microbes that cause diseases, such as Lyme disease and babesiosis. There are a few ways to determine if your dog(s) might have a Tick(s) by looking out for the following signs, finding a tick in your home, you dog might display some kind of fever, unexplained scabs on the body, shaking of the head, and small bumps across the body.
How not to remove a Tick!!
- Do not simply brush, scrape or pull the tick forcibly off the skin. This can lead to the tick’s probe breaking off under the surface of the skin and leading to a range of potential infections and problems.
- Do not just leave the tick alone for your pet to deal with.
- Do not remove the tick with bare hands or your fingernails- ticks can spread diseases and infections such as Lyme disease, which both you and your pet may be vulnerable to.
- Do not attempt to burn or singe the tick off.
- Do not spray the tick with an insecticide or toxin.
- Do not use alcohol to remove a tick, nor attempt to suffocate the tick using a layer of Vaseline or soap.
Safe Tick removal!!
The easiest, safest and most effective way to remove a tick from your pet is by means of a tool called a ‘tick twister.’ These are small plastic picks with a claw-shaped head which slots between the body of the tick and your pet, giving you the leverage to twist the tick harmlessly and effectively out of your pet’s skin in one piece. If you’ve ever taken your pet to the vet to have a tick removed, this is almost certainly the tool which your vet or veterinary nurse will have used. Most vets sell tick twisters over the counter, or you can order one from a variety of retailers online. It’s a handy piece of kit to have in reserve!
Or, use a pair of blunt needle-nose tweezers to remove the tick. Grasp the tick as close to your pet’s skin as you can- do not take hold of the body of the tick or squeeze the body, as this can kill the tick, leaving the front part of the head embedded under the skin releasing toxins. Then gently and with a consistent pressure, twist and lever the tick away from the skin. Do not apply too much force, because as mentioned, you do not want the head of the tick to break off under the skin.
If you are in doubt about Tick removal and to discuss preventative measures, please call you vet for advice and help.