When your dog has a tick on him and you don't have any fancy tools to remove it, don't worry: there are a few easy ways to remove a tick.
Ticks can carry a number of diseases and extracting one as soon as you notice it is the best possible way to prevent your pet from getting sick. Unfortunately, ticks will dig into your pet’s skin and just pulling them off safely isn’t that simple.
If you don’t have a tick tool such as Tickease at hand, here are some ways to remove a tick the safest and quickest way possible.
Clean and Disinfect
No matter which tool you’re using to remove the tick, always use a cotton ball soaked in either rubbing alcohol or liquid dish soap and place it on the tick. This often causes the tick to back out, removing its mouth parts from the dog, so you can simply pick it off the pet's skin or fur, according to radio show host and Pet First-Aid & CPR instructor, Denise Fleck. “I then like to pour a little hydrogen peroxide on the area to disinfect,” Fleck adds.
If you don’t have peroxide, Fleck suggests antibacterial soap (chlorhexidine/Hibiclens), rubbing alcohol, Bactine or Neosporin to disinfect the area.
Use Tweezers Whenever Possible
While it sounds a bit scary, you want to use a pair of tweezers and pinch a tiny amount of your pet's skin where the tick is embedded, says Dr. Bruce Silverman, VMD, MBA from Village West Veterinary. “Give the tweezers a solid pinch to remove the entire tick, its embedded mouth-parts, and that tiny little patch of skin,” Silverman says. “This ensures that nothing is left behind to cause a local infection.”
Make sure the tweezers are clean and rub them with alcohol if they’re not to prevent infection.
Use Dental Floss In a Pinch
Tweezers work well for tick removal because they’re easy to maneuver and even a slightly annoyed dog will stay quiet long enough for you to grab the tick. But if you don’t have tweezers around, some dental floss might work as well.
Simply tie some thread around the mouthpart area of the tick (as close to the skin as possible), then pull up and outwards. Pull slowly, so you don’t break the tick off but rather pull it off completely.
Skip These Methods at all Costs
Despite what you might have heard, placing a match or cigarette on the tick will only do one thing: burn your pet. “Using fingers is another a no-no,” says Fleck. “When doing so, our thumb and index finger squeeze the abdomen of the tick, causing him to regurgitate stomach contents (and possibly disease).”
Smothering a tick with petroleum jelly or nail polish remover may also cause this same reaction, adds Fleck.
When to See the Vet
If the tick is plump when you pull it out, there's a chance of a tick-borne infection already transmitted, according to Silverman.
Once you remove a tick, Fleck suggests keeping the tick in a Ziplock baggie (after drowning tick it in alcohol) in case your dog has a reaction. “Your veterinarian can then determine the type of tick and any disease it was carrying,” Fleck says.
Diana Bocco is a full-time writer and avid adventurer. She's gone hiking in Siberia, snorkeling in Thailand, and canoeing in the Mekong River. She also loves caves and has been known to get lost in one or five around the world. Diana's work has been published in the Discovery Channel website, Yahoo!, Popular Mechanics, and more. You can read more of her work on her website at www.dianabocco.com