With the advent of warmer weather, your thoughts may be turning to backyard barbecues, hiking with your dog, and longer, warmer days spent outdoors. Ours, too! But you may also be noticing more things creepy and crawly – yes, we’re talking about bugs.

Chief among these threats are ticks. Ticks live in all 50 states and are intent on one thing: taking a blood meal from your pet. Ticks that have attached to your pet are gross, but they pose an even more serious threat than a bite. Tick borne disease can even be deadly for your pet, and many of these diseases can affect you, too.

To keep your pets, your family, and yourself safe, follow these guidelines for how to remove a tick safely and quickly.

Tick Dangers

When ticks bite your pet (or you), they can transmit diseases. Tick borne diseases include:

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

Luckily, you can prevent ticks from biting your pets and in your home by using a year round tick preventive. Make sure you are regularly clearing brush and debris from your yard or property (where ticks live and breed). It’s also important to examine your pets for ticks after they’ve been outside, and to learn how to remove a tick should you find one on your pet.

Ticks can only transmit disease 24-48 hours after a bite. The length of time differs depending on the disease and the type of tick that bites. That’s why it is so important to remove the tick within 24 hours and to save the tick for further testing in case your pet displays symptoms of tick borne disease.

We also recommend annual tick borne disease testing on an annual basis, if your pet’s lifestyle puts her at risk. These diseases often mask as other conditions, and signs can be intermittent and therefore difficult to diagnose. Catching tick borne disease early means a better outcome for your pet, at less of a cost to you.

How to Remove A Tick

If you should find an imbedded tick on your pet, use this step by step guide to removing it as soon as possible.

Gather your supplies:

  • Disposable gloves
  • A fine tipped tweezers or tick removal tool
  • Disinfectant such as isopropyl alcohol
  • Covered container

How to remove a tick:

  • Gently spread your dog’s hair away from the tick
  • Grasp the tick as close to your pet’s body as possible
  • Gently and firmly pull the tick straight upward and out in a slow, steady motion
  • Take care not to twist the tick, as this can tear the body – leaving the head imbedded in your pet

Disinfect your dog’s skin as well as your tools. Keep the tick’s body in a covered container, labeled with the date, so that we can send it in for testing if your dog becomes ill.

Next Steps

Observe your dog carefully for signs of tick borne disease. These may include:

  • Fever
  • Joint pain
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Appetite loss

If you observe any of these signs, please call us right away to schedule an appointment. And if your pet’s tick preventive has lapsed this winter, let us know so that we can get her back on track. Together, we can prevent tick borne diseases and keep your pet healthy and well.

If removing a tick just makes you too squeamish, the talented team at Blue Valley Animal Hospital can take care of this task for you. Schedule an appointment today.