Pet owners who find a tick on their pets typically act swiftly with the goal of removing this parasitic arachnid as quickly as possible. However, moving too quickly can hurt the pet and even its owner. Tick removal kits can be highly effective and are often inexpensive, but owners can remove the tick themselves as well. The following are a few tick-removal tips courtesy of the ASPCA.
Be prepared to
keep the tick
Some tick bites are worse than others, and if your pet falls ill after a tick bite, the tick itself might provide some valuable insight for your pet’s veterinarian. So owners about to remove a tick from their pet should prepare to keep the tick, ideally in a screw-top jar containing some rubbing alcohol. Keep the jar close to you when you begin the removal process.
Ticks, even those that have already bitten your pet, can carry infective agents, which may enter your bloodstream through breaks in your skin or if you touch your eyes, nostrils or mouth. When removing a tick, be sure to wear rubber or latex gloves to protect yourself from direct contact with the tick or the bite area.
Pets will likely try to squirm away as you remove the tick, so enlist some help to hold the animal still or help it relax.
Prepare the Area, and Remove the Tick
When you’re ready to remove the tick, treat the bite area with rubbing alcohol. Once treated, use tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the animal’s skin as possible before pulling the tick straight upward with steady, even pressure. During removal, do not twist or jerk the tick, as doing so can leave parts of the tick embedded in the pet or cause the tick to regurgitate infective fluids. Once the tick is removed, do not squeeze or crush it, as this can cause it to expel fluids that may contain infective organisms. Immediately place the tick in the jar you’ve selected for storage.
Examine the Area Where the Tick was Removed
It’s not always possible to remove the tick entirely. Sometimes parts of the tick’s mouth will remain embedded in the animal’s skin. If the area is not red or inflamed but parts of the mouth remain, disinfect the area and leave the mouth parts in. Apply a warm compress to the area, which may expel the remaining mouth parts.
Clean the Area
When the tick is removed, disinfect the bite area thoroughly. Don’t forget to clean yourself as well, washing your hands even if you wore gloves. Sterilize the tweezers with alcohol or carefully run them over a flame.
Continue Monitoring the Bite Area for Infection
Even if the tick removal process goes smoothly, continue to monitor the bite area for infection. If the area is red or inflamed or becomes red or inflamed following the removal, visit the veterinarian and bring the jar with the tick inside along.