Ticks are unpleasant little critters and can be quite harmful to our pets. They are most commonly picked up when your cat or dog brushes against undergrowth as this makes it easy for the tick to latch on. Prevention of a tick bite is always better than cure, so in the first instance we would recommend you speak to your vet about the most suitable tick prevention product for your pet. However, if you do find a tick on your pet, it’s important to remove it as soon as possible and in the correct way.
Spotting a tick
In the summer months, when ticks are most common, it’s a good idea to regularly check your pet for ticks. Especially for example; if you’ve been out for a walk in the undergrowth with your dog or if your cat is a bit of an explorer! Some of the key areas to check are as follows:
- Inside leg
Ticks can be really hard to spot as they are often hidden under fur. They are usually round and, although you may expect to see them, their legs will not be visible. Their colour can range from a light cream, grey or brown, so they are very well camouflaged and therefore quite difficult to see! Ticks come in a range of sizes and they vary from a pin prick size to around the size of a human finger nail.
How to remove a tick safely
If you find a tick on your pet, it’s important that you remove it safely and effectively. This is because if any part of the tick is left behind it can cause an infection or other complications, such as Lyme disease. To make sure this doesn’t happen, here are some do’s and don’ts of how to remove a tick:
- Use a tick remover (which can be bought from your local veterinary practice)
- Wear rubber gloves when removing the tick, as they can make humans ill too!
- Try to remove the tick with your hands
- Pull or scrape the tick off your pet’s skin
- Use tweezers – The body part will become detached from the head, leaving the mouth parts still intact. This often causes an infection requiring antibiotics
- Use Vaseline to suffocate the tick.
If you are having problems or don’t feel confident enough to do it yourself, just pop along to your local veterinary surgery and they will be more than happy to do it for you.
Before you go to remove the tick, put on some rubber gloves to avoid contact with it yourself. This is because if any fluids get into a cut, you rub your eyes or if the tick bites you, there is a chance it could make you ill. It’s also a good idea to have another person with you to help hold your pet and keep them calm, as it can be a bit worrying for them!
To remove the tick:
- Grab the tick with the tick remover as close to the skin as possible, trying to avoid squeezing the tick as this can make it explode and therefore risks leaving bits of it in your pet
- Next, gently twist and move the tick away from your pet’s body at the same time, don’t be too forceful though as this can again end up leaving parts of it in your pet
- Once the tick has been completely removed, wash the area with an antiseptic wipe and wash your hands.
Make sure to keep an eye on your pet over the next week or so as some ticks are carriers of Lyme disease which can be passed onto your pet through being bitten. If your pet shows any signs of being ill, take them to the vet immediately to be checked out.
Also take your pet to the vet if you don’t manage to get all of the tick out when trying to remove it, as there may be a risk of infection or other complications. They will be able to give you advice and check your pet over to make sure the tick hasn’t passed on anything harmful.