The vet’s office: Ticked off
Safely removing ticks from your pet
By Dr. Roger Krogstad, DVM
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
In spite of our best efforts to keep ticks off of our pets, on occasion a “super tick” will get past these chemical barriers and be found attached. What to do? You may have heard of the old remedies like burning it off or smothering it with Vaseline. These methods can be dangerous and messy. With the multiple diseases carried by ticks, both the safety of the pet and the person removing the tick need to be considered.
Squeezing the body of the tick while attempting to remove it may actually inject bacteria into the pet. Other removal methods that crush the tick may contaminate the bite area or your hands and present an infection risk to both the pet and the owner.
The recommendation is not to compress the body of the tick. Instead, use a small tweezer or forceps to hold onto the tick as close to the pet’s body as possible. A gentle, steady pull should dislodge the tick with the body still intact.
Sometimes the mouth parts remain visible as a little black dot in the skin. These can be removed by excavating the tissues around it with a sterile needle.
The surface of the mouth parts are structured to permit easy entry but difficult removal from the skin. If left in the skin, a local inflammatory reaction will look like a sliver, and it will eventually be sloughed out. If local infection is noted, a topical antibiotic can be applied until a scab forms over the area. The mouth part of the tick is not infectious on its own.
A device that should be in every dog owner’s first aid kit is called the De-Ticker II. Simple and inexpensive, it holds the tick gently by the head and with a twisting action safely removes the tick, head and all. These may be found at veterinary practices or pet stores in the area. Dropping the tick into a small container of isopropyl alcohol is a safe method of disposal.
If a tick bite area ever shows signs of progressive infection or expanding redness, consult your veterinarian. Though dogs are not known to show the CEM (Chronica Erythema Migrans) skin lesion of human Lyme infection, a local reaction should still be evaluated to see if medical intervention is needed. Your veterinarian may recommend a Lyme disease blood test to determine if further treatment is needed.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.