Pet Care How-To: Top Tick Removal Techniques

Most dogs are affected by dog ticks at least once in their lifetime, but not all pet owners are aware of the proper techniques for manual tick removal. Dog ticks feed off the blood of their hosts by burying their mouthparts into the dogs’ skin, and once a tick is embedded, it can cause bothersome health problems for your dog if not addressed with proper tick removal.
Among the direct effects of tick attachment include local infection, irritation, inflammation and possibly hypersensitivity to the tick bite. Moreover, the longer the dog ticks stay attached for a blood meal, the greater the possibility of diseases such as Ehrlichiosis and Lyme disease being transmitted to your pet. Proper tick removal, then, is something a responsible pet owner should know how to do.
Before the actual tick removal, the initial thing you have to do is of course identify the presence of ticks. Check your dogs for the presence of dog ticks, and do so regularly. Inspect them while brushing or grooming them, petting or playing with them, and especially after taking them for a walk. Preferably wearing latex gloves, run your hands all over your pet’s body. Pay extra attention to the head, ears, neck, paws, skin folds and other crevices, as these are the areas where ticks prefer to latch on. Feel for any bumps or raised areas, and if you notice one, closely examine the area by parting the hair and inspecting it under good lighting.
Upon finding a tick, be ready to execute proper tick removal. Safe tick removal involves wearing gloves to protect yourself, as attempting tick removal with simply your bare hands can expose you to tick saliva and possible contact with organisms that cause tick diseases.
Tick removal can be tricky because ticks’ teeth are curved backwards, and can be difficult to extract once they have dug into your pet’s skin. Improper tick removal can leave the tick’s head behind, exposing your pet to possible local infection. Some recommend spraying alcohol on the tick to stun it enough to loosen its hold, facilitating smoother tick removal.
Special tick removal tools or fine-tipped tweezers are recommended for tick removal. Once the tick loosens its grip, use your tick removal tool to grasp the dog tick as close as possible to your pet’s skin surface. Carefully pull the tick out from the skin, using a steady, even pressure. Be careful not to burst the tick’s body during tick removal to avoid disease-causing bacteria from spreading and infecting your dog’s open bite wound.
Tick removal should be done slowly but firmly, and without turning or twisting, as these maneuvers usually cause the mouthparts to break off, leaving them embedded in the skin. If some parts of the head do stay embedded after tick removal, attempt to remove them using the tweezers. If some parts still can’t be removed, don’t be alarmed. Just take care of the site of tick removal, and the remaining parts are bound to fall off eventually.
After tick removal, small wounds from the tick bite may be left on the skin of your dog. Clean the bite area with mild soap and water, and apply an antiseptic such as Betadine on the tick removal site to avoid further infection.
Don’t attempt tick removal with folklore remedies such as trying to suffocate the tick by applying nail polish or petroleum jelly, or using the heat of hot matches to cause the tick to detach. These tick removal methods are not effective in facilitating prompt tick removal, and may actually cause more harm than good.
If you don’t want the trouble of having to manually remove ticks from your dog all the time, you may opt to use Frontline Plus for dogs, a topically applied tick and flea treatment for dogs. It may cost you money to buy the product, but it does kill ticks and protect your dog from future infestations with monthly applications. In essence, tick removal and prevention products such as Frontline Plus for dogs will save you time and effort, and grant you the peace of mind that your pet is protected from dog ticks 24/7.

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