Properly Removing a Tick from Your Pet

Tick

The forecast for ticks in the Central, IL area is on the rise this year.   The veterinarians at Lange Animal Clinic recommend a minimum of once-yearly examinations and year-round parasite control for all dogs and cats in your home. The best way to reduce your dog’s risk for ehrlichiosis is to follow our veterinarians’ advice and consistently use appropriate tick control products for your pets.

With that being said —how do you deal with removing a tick if you happen to find one or more on your dog or cat? While it’s important to get these little suckers off quickly, our veterinarians advise that you stay calm and don’t rush it. Moving too fast when removing a tick could potentially create more problems, both for your pet and for you.

While the following instructions employ tweezers, be aware that there are some very good products on the market designed specifically for safe tick removal. If you live in a tick-heavy area or are taking your pets to a place where they are likely to get ticks, it’s a good idea to buy one of these tools and have it on hand. They generally work better than tweezers at getting out the whole tick, and are relatively inexpensive.

Step-by-Step Tick Removal Instructions

Step 1—Prepare a Container

Throwing a tick in the trash or flushing it down the toilet will not kill it, and it’s actually best to hold on to it for a while for veterinary testing in case your pet falls ill from the bite. Be ready with somewhere to put the tick after you’ve removed it—the best option is a screw-top jar containing some rubbing alcohol.

Step 2—Wear Protective Gloves

Put on latex or rubber gloves so you’ll never have direct contact with the tick or your pet’s 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—Get a Partner to Help Restrain Your Pet Safely

You don’t want your pet squirming away before you’re finished, so if possible, have a helper on hand to distract, soothe or hold your pet still.

Step 4—Removal of the Tick

Treat the bite area with rubbing alcohol and, using a pair of tweezers, grasp the tick as close to your pet’s 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.  Also, do not squeeze or crush the body of the tick, because its fluids (saliva and gut contents) may contain infective organisms.

Step 5— Check the Area

Sometimes, in spite of doing everything right, a tick’s mouth-parts will get left behind in your pet’s 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.

Step 6—Clean and Disinfect

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—Monitor the Affected Area

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 us for further evaluation.


For over 45 years, Lange Animal Clinic has provided veterinary services in Pekin, IL and the surrounding areas for over three family generations. Our expert staff of Veterinarians, Veterinary Technicians, and Veterinary Assistants are trained to ensure the best quality medical care for your beloved pets-whether it be as a routine medical examination to more complicated surgical procedures. We are a small companion animal clinic providing services for dogs, cats, and exotic pets.

Dr. Colleen O’Rourke, owner and senior Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, takes great pride in making certain that every patient’s experience is handled with the utmost care, compassion, and economically in the best interests of our clients. Visit us at www.langeanimal.com.  

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