Expert Advice: How to Remove a Tick From Your Pet

It's important to remove a tick the proper way to avoid tick-borne illness in pets

You may not think of autumn or winter as tick season, but here in Beverly Hills, ticks never seem to be dormant for long. It only takes one warm day and they’re active, ready to bite you or your dog. Tick prevention is important of course, and so is knowing how to safely remove a tick. Below, we’ll share our best tips, as well as some tick removal myths to avoid.

The Tick Problem

We all know that tick bites are painful and uncomfortable. But did you know that ticks also transmit serious and debilitating disease to animals and people alike? The tick species in our area are all capable of transmitting disease, but they need to be attached for 24-48 hours to do so. This makes removing them quickly very important component of preventing tick borne diseases.

Tick borne diseases include:

  • Lyme disease
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
  • Ehrlichia
  • Babesiosis
  • Anaplasmosis

Ask us which tick preventative is best for your pet. There are monthly medications that can prevent a tick from attaching, so it’s important to talk to us about your pet’s lifestyle, age, and breed so we can recommend a good option. Keep your yard clear of garden waste and leaves, which are prime breeding grounds for ticks. It’s also important to check your pets daily for ticks, especially if they’ve been outdoors in tick infested areas.

How To Safely Remove a Tick

  • Use fine tipped tweezers or a tick removal tool
  • Wear latex gloves to prevent disease exposure
  • Spread your dog’s fur so you can see their skin
  • Gently grasp the tick’s body as close as possible to the skin
  • Very gently, pull straight up in a slow, steady motion
  • Don’t twist the tick as you may detach the head, leaving it imbedded in your dog’s body

Once you’ve removed the tick, it’s a good idea to keep it in a lidded jar in case we need to test it for disease. Preventing ticks and removing them quickly are good safeguards against disease, but if your dog gets ticks or is at risk, we may also recommend annual tick borne disease testing to ensure there are no problems.

Signs and symptoms of tick borne diseases are often difficult to notice as they are similar to other signs of disease. Schedule an appointment if you notice any of the following signs:

  • Joint pain
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Loss of appetite

How Not to Remove a Tick

There are common myths about how to remove a tick that you should avoid. These methods are ineffective and just plain dangerous. They include:

  • Freezing the tick off
  • Burning the tick off
  • Painting the tick with nail polish
  • Covering the tick with petroleum jelly

Remember that your objective is to remove the tick quickly, before disease can be transmitted – not wait for it to back out on its own. Freezing and burning methods close to your dog’s skin and fur is just plain unsafe.

Our team at Beverly HIlls Veterinary Associates are experts at removing ticks, so if you prefer out technicians to do it, give us a call. We also have tick removal tools for sale in our hospital and these can be very handy to have around.

If you have any questions or concerns about how to remove a tick or tick borne diseases, please let us know. We’re here to help!