Ticks are not just ugly little blood sucking parasites. They can spread diseases that can make dogs (and people) quite ill.
Some ticks produce a toxin that will paralyze your dog, and may even kill him. If you live in an area where ticks are prevalent, it’s important that you know how to safely remove these little creatures from your dog.
The first thing to understand is that ticks don’t actually have a head; they have a body and mouthparts. This means that there is no need to worry about just removing the tick’s body and leaving the head in your dog’s skin.
It can be tricky to get the mouthparts out because they are so small but if they are left behind, they’re not likely to cause him any problems. His body will treat them like a splinter and will slowly push them out.
There may be a small lump where the tick was attached but that should disappear within a week or two.
What Not to Use to Remove a Tick
There are many old wives’ tales about what to put on a tick to make it back out of your dog’s skin but they just don’t work.
Vaseline was once thought to smother the tick and kill it, but ticks breathe so slowly that it has no effect at all.
Some people have tried soaking a cotton ball in alcohol and dousing the tick with it, but this is also ineffective.
Using kerosene or a hot match tip can burn or irritate your dog’s skin.
Physical Methods of Tick Removal
One of the simplest methods of removing ticks is to take some tissue or paper towel and put it over your fingertips. Then, grab the tick firmly as close to your dog’s skin as possible and just pull it out. You may not like the idea of actually touching the tick, so you may prefer to use one of the many tick removing devices that are available.
Tick Remover Scoop
The tick remover scoop is a spoon shaped device with a small notch in the spoon part. The notch is put against the tick and the scoop is pushed forward. This quickly and effectively removes the tick.
Tick Twister is another product that you can pick up from your local pet store. It is shaped like a long crowbar, and it too has a notch at the end. Push the notch around the tick then twist, and the tick will be removed cleanly.
If you don’t have a tick removal device handy, then you can use a pair of ordinary household tweezers. Again, grab the tick near your dog’s skin and pull.
When the tick is out, put it in a container of alcohol to kill it, and then throw it in the trash. You can give the attachment site a quick clean with some Betadine or other gentle antiseptic, then leave it to heal by itself.
Chemical Methods of Tick Removal
If your dog has a lot of ticks, it would take a long time to remove them all by hand.
This is where an effective tick control product can be used. These will kill the ticks, and they will then fall off your dog. There are several options available to you.
1. Use a Mitaban dip to bathe your dog. This product contains amitraz which is very effective, but isn’t a good choice for young dogs because of the risk of side effects.
2. Frontline spray can be applied all over your dog to kill ticks quickly.
3. A Preventic collar also contains amitraz, and it can be used in adult dogs.
After you have used one of these products, put your dog in a crate or kennel overnight to make it easier to clean up the dead ticks.
Follow Up with Vet If Necessary
When the tick or ticks are removed, you don’t need to do anything more for your dog. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on him for the next few months.
If he shows any sign of ill health, take him along to your veterinarian just in case he has picked up a tick borne disease such as Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
If your dog has had one tick, it’s possible that he’ll pick up more in the future. There are products that you can use to keep these unwelcome little parasites away, and protect your dog from illness.