When examining your dog, remember—depending on its species and life stage, a tick can be as small as a pencil point, or as large as a bean (if it’s engorged). If you find a tick on the coat that hasn’t attached yet, just brush or pick it off and dispose of it. If you find a tick attached to your pet’s skin, don’t panic—it doesn’t necessarily mean disease.
However, it’s important to remove the tick properly.
When ticks feed, they insert their mouthparts into the skin, and these need to be removed along with the rest of the tick to avoid risk of infection.
Do it yourself tick removal:
1. Don’t apply any substances (alcohol, etc.) to the tick hoping it will let go—it won’t.
2. Wear latex gloves to protect your hands.
3. Use sharp, pointed tweezers or special tick tweezers (ask your veterinarian).
4. Grasp the tick as close to its embedded mouthparts as possible, next to your pet’s skin. Do not grasp or squeeze the tick’s head or body—this can help expel more organisms into your pet. If the part of the head is left in, don't worry, your dogs body will see it as a foreign body and eventually push it out.
5. Pull straight out with a slow, steady motion. Don’t twist or turn the tick as you go, as this may disconnect the head or mouthparts.
6. Keep the tick in a clean jar or container so you can take it to your veterinarian for identification. Knowing what species it was helps to determine risks of disease transmission.
7. Once the tick is removed, wash the bite area with mild soap and warm water. Keep an eye on it over the next several days for signs of irritation or infection. It should clear up in a few days—if not, see your veterinarian.
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