I am all about biodiversity, but I must admit ticks are not high on my list of biota to celebrate. They are beastly little bloodsucking parasites who double their ick factor when their bellies are bloated full with your blood! †To be fair, I know they are just trying to get by in life, but it is just all of the nasty diseases they pass along that push me over the edge of compassion. So, this is one critter that I will regretfully dispatch, on an as-needed basis.
For many pet parents, tick are an unfortunate and nasty part of pet ownership, and cannot be ignored. Removing the little parasites as quickly as possible is recommended, but not so fast that you cause more problems for you and/or your pet in the end. So, before summer is in full swing, review this handy†How to Remove a Tick primer courtesy of the ASPCA.
Step 1: Prepare the†Final Resting Place
Throwing a tick in the trash or flushing it down the toilet will not kill it, and it is actually best to hold on to it for awhile for veterinary testing in case your pet falls ill from the bite. Be ready with somewhere to put the tick after you have removed it. The best option is a screw-top jar containing some rubbing alcohol.
Step 2: Do Not Bare-Hand It
Put on latex or rubber gloves so you will never have direct contact with the tick or the bite area. Ticks can carry infective agents that may enter your bloodstream through breaks in your skin or through mucous membranes (if you touch your eyes, nostrils or mouth).
Step 3: Grab a Partner
You do not want your pet squirming away before you are finished, so if possible, have a helper on hand to distract, soothe or hold her still.
Step 4:†The Removal
Treat the bite area with rubbing alcohol and, using a pair of tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the petís†skin as possible. Pull straight upwards with steady, even pressure. Place the tick in your jar.
- Do not twist or jerk the tick! This may leave the mouth-parts embedded in your pet, or cause the tick to regurgitate infective fluids.
- Do not squeeze or crush the body of the tick, because its fluids (saliva and gut contents) may contain infective organisms.
Step 5: All that Remains
Sometimes, in spite of doing everything right, a tickís mouth-parts will get left behind in your petís skin. If the area doesn’t appear red or inflamed, the best thing to do is to disinfect it and not to try to take the mouth-parts out. A warm compress to the area might help the body expel them, but do not go at it with tweezers again.
Step 6: Clean Up
Thoroughly disinfect the bite site and wash your hands with soap and water (even though you were wearing gloves). Sterilize your tweezers with alcohol or by carefully running them over a flame.
Step 7: Keep Watch
Over the next few weeks, closely monitor the bite area for any signs of localized infection. If the area is already red and inflamed, or becomes so later, please bring your pet†and your jarred tick to your veterinarian for evaluation.
Next Page – The Tick Life Cycle and Your Pets