Ticks are pesky little critters that can transmit diseases and cause health problems in your pet. They are usually found outdoors in wooded areas or in long grass. Fortunately, there are ways to keep your pet tick-free, including preventative medications.
But even with preventatives, these pests can sometimes sneak past even the most diligent pet owners. Luckily, you can learn to spot and remove them yourself.
Spotting ticks on your pet
When you and your pet come home from a day outdoors, it’s time for a tick check. Ticks are drawn to the warmest parts of your pet’s body, such as the neck, ears, groin, and armpits, but they can be found anywhere.
These parasites can be as tiny as the head of a pin, but as the tick feeds on your pet, its body will enlarge and it will become easier to see. Once a tick finds a place to feed, it will not move.
Use your hands to comb through your pet’s fur and feel for small bumps. It can be especially difficult to spot a tick on a pet with darker fur. Be sure to part the hair while searching to ensure you don’t miss a tick.
If you find one, you can remove it yourself. When you remove it, be sure to grab the entire tick, including the head and the body. If the head gets stuck in your pet’s skin, or if you are not comfortable with removing the tick, talk to a veterinarian.
Getting the right supplies
You’ll need these supplies to safely remove the tick:
• Latex gloves
• Tweezers or a tick-removal tool
• Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol)
• A sealed disposable container (plastic baggie, jar, etc.)
• Over the counter triple-antibiotic ointment (optional)
Removing a tick from your pet
- Start by putting on your gloves and pouring isopropyl alcohol into your container. You need to pour enough alcohol to submerge the tick.
- If your veterinarian advises you, first dab a tiny amount of ointment to your pet’s skin where the tick is.
- Now disinfect your tweezers with the alcohol.
- Take your tweezers and place them as close to your pet’s skin as possible.
It is important to grasp the head of the tick and remove the entire bug.
- Then, gently squeeze the tick with your tweezers. Slowly and carefully pull straight out.
- Once you have removed the pest, place it in the container with the alcohol to kill it.
- Inspect the tick’s body and check if the head was fully removed. Contact your veterinarian if it was not.
- Apply a small amount of ointment where the tick was located on your pet, if advised by your veterinarian.
- If you are concerned about the tick carrying a disease, you can hold on to it to be tested. Otherwise, you can dispose of it.
Done! But before you send your pet off to play, ensure that he is on a year-round preventative. Your veterinarian can recommend the best one for your pet. In addition to preventatives, there are other precautions you can take to prevent ticks. With preventative medication and tips to stay tick-free, you and your pet will be safe all summer long.