How to Extract Ticksby Eric Mohrman
Ticks are arachnids, just like spiders and mites.
Check your dog thoroughly for ticks frequently -- especially spring through fall and following jaunts in areas with lots of brush, shrubbery, tall grass and other low growth, where ticks wait on flora for hosts to brush by. Ticks tend to stick to areas around the head, neck, ears and feet. They can wind up anywhere on your pet. Not all ticks carry disease, but the longer those that do feed on your dog's blood, the greater the risk the dog will contract a dangerous infection. You even can cause transmission of disease with improper technique.
Put on a pair of protective gloves to remove a tick from your dog. This is just a precaution against getting bitten by the tick yourself or having direct contact with the tick's saliva and its contaminants.
Spread your dog's hair away from the tick and use tweezers to take hold of the parasite. Grab its body as close to your dog's skin as you can get without pinching her. Also, be careful not to grasp any of her hairs in the tweezers.
Pull the tick straight out of your dog with a steady movement. Don't squeeze, twist, pinch, poke or otherwise manipulate or irritate the tick; doing so increases the flow of tick saliva into your dog through the bite and may cause the tick to vomit into your dog's bloodstream, raising the risk of disease transmission. If the tick's head separates and remains in your dog, pull it out with the tweezers as you would a splinter.
Drop the tick into a jar containing a little isopropyl alcohol, which kills the arachnid almost instantly. Seal the jar and put a label or piece of masking tape on it. Note where the tick was on your pet, the date of extraction and an estimate of how long the tick may have been on your dog. You may bring the tick to your vet for testing to see if it carried any serious pathogens, or just hold onto it for later testing should your dog become symptomatic of a tick-borne illness.
Monitor your dog in the weeks following a tick bite. Watch for depression, lethargy, fever, loss of appetite, swollen lymph nodes and signs of joint pain, as these are common signs of Lyme disease. Also watch for standard signs of infection at the bite site, such as redness, swelling, itchiness and discharge. If you notice any of these or other reasons for concern, see your vet.
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- Isopropyl alcohol
- Label or masking tape
- Tick extraction tools are good to have on hand if you live in an area with heavy tick infestations. Follow the manufacturer's directions for proper technique.
- Stay alert for small, hard bumps on your dog during brushing or combing, bathing and other grooming procedures.
- Check between your dog's toes, under her chin and in her armpits and ears when looking for ticks.
- While tick repellants are often a good idea -- check with your vet first -- before venturing into high risk areas, don't neglect tick checks; no repellant is 100 percent reliable, as the Humane Society of the United States cautions.
- Ticks sometimes move from one host to another, so don't forget to check all your other pets and the people in your home, too.