Avoiding Disease: How to Remove Ticks from Your Pet

Posted by Stacey Venzel

Do you know the best method of tick removal for your pet?

If your animal likes to frolic in meadows or forests, there is a good chance he or she might pick up an insect parasite. While many tick prevention products exist, none are 100% effective.

Ticks can cause a number of life-threatening diseases in your pet, the most common and the most dangerous being Lyme disease, so prevention is important. But when that fails, have a back-up plan for tick removal.

It is relatively easy to safely and efficiently rid your pet of a tick infestation. Just follow the simple steps below and your pet will be well on its way to being tick-free!

Dog ticks in the ear stray dog

What you'll need:

  • Latex gloves
  • Tweezers or tick remover tool
  • Antiseptic (e.g. iodine, Chlorhexidine)
  • Cotton balls
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Small jar

Closeup of human hands use silver pliers to remove dog adult tick from the fur ; selective focus at dog tick

How to remove ticks:

1. Protect yourself. Put on the latex gloves to protect your skin from any tick bites.

2. Remove the tick. 

With fine-tipped tweezers: Pinch the tick below the head and pull the insect away from the skin in one steady motion to get the entire tick. Avoid pinching your pet's skin and be sure not to pull too roughly.

With a tick remover tool: Press the tool against your pet's skin and slide it toward the tick until the parasite is snagged in the notch of the tick removal device. When you pull back, the tick's body should remain in the notch of the tool.

3. Kill the tick. Pour isopropyl alcohol in a small jar or container and drop the live tick into the chemical liquid. It will instantly kill them. It is a good idea to keep these ticks around for identifying purposes if necessary.

4. Clean the bite area. Dab a cotton ball soaked in antiseptic on the bite site to prevent infection of the area. This will not prevent transmission of a tick-borne disease but can topically clean the area.

Close up of the tick on the white fur

5. Monitor your pet. Keep an eye out for symptoms related to tick-borne diseases such as lethargy, inappetence, joint pain, fever, flu-like symptoms, or general abnormal behavior. If symptoms persist, take your pet into the vet.

Common misconceptions on removing ticks include home remedies and folklore remedies like using a hot match to get the tick to wiggle out or rubbing the tick with petroleum jelly or nail polish in order to detach the tick. These tactics can be dangerous because the tick's mouth can stay attached and there is higher risk for disease transmission.

You might want to bring along the tick jar so the vet can identify the species as certain ticks, like the deer tick, are linked to specific diseases. Not every tick carries a disease, but if you are aware of the possibility of transmission, you could nip a long-term illness in the bud.

See how simple that is? Ticks are not fun to deal with but removing them is an easy fix. Remember, prevention is the best way to avoid any tick infestation!

Visit the CDC website for more information.

Has your pet ever had a tick? How did you get rid of it? Let us know in the comments below!

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Avoiding Disease: How to Remove Ticks from Your Pet