How to Safely Remove Ticks from Cats and Dogs
Ticks aren’t your regular creepy crawlers – they’re carriers of dangerous diseases that can be transmitted to you and your pets if they remain attached for too long.
Learn the do’s and don’ts of removing these pesky parasites, as well as how to protect your cat or dog and their environment to prevent future infestation.
Checking for Ticks
When you or your pet return from being outdoors, carefully check clothing, exposed body parts and hair for these notorious hitchhikers, especially during summer months.
What NOT To Do
Ticks attach to people and pets with great tenacity. They insert their mouthparts deep into the skin and secrete a substance that cements them to their host. When a tick is fully engorged with blood, they discharge enzymes which dissolve the glue-like solution, allowing them to detach and fall off.
- There are many folklore remedies you may have heard of to remove ticks from both people and pets. It is imperative that you avoid these methods. The goal is to remove the tick quickly without provoking it or waiting for it to detach.
- Do not attempt to use nail polish, petroleum jelly, alcohol or heat. These ‘techniques’ are not effective and let the tick remain attached for longer than desired.
- Avoid squeezing the body of the tick during removal. Administering pressure to a tick may cause it to release fluid (which could include disease-causing bacteria, infection, and other microorganisms) into your pet’s bloodstream.
How to Remove Ticks
If you discover a tick on your cat or dog, don’t panic. While there are several tick-removal tools you can buy, a pair of fine-tipped tweezers will also work very well.
- Use the tweezers to grasp near the tick’s head and as close to your pet’s skin as possible.
- Gently pull upward. Do not twist or quickly jerk the tick, as this can cause the body to break off and the mouthparts to remain in the skin.
- Once the tick is removed, thoroughly cleanse the bite area with rubbing alcohol (except near the eyes or other sensitive areas) or soap and water.
- Relocate the tick to a tightly sealed jar or plastic baggie in case identification becomes necessary by your vet. If your pet shows no signs of illness after 2-3 weeks, dispose of the tick by flushing it down the toilet.
- Monitor your pet and the bite for 2-3 weeks following removal. If you notice any changes in your cat or dog’s appetite, energy level or mobility, contact your vet.
Using Tick Preventatives
Cats and dogs are very susceptible to tick bites. Vaccines are not available for most tick-borne diseases and do not stop ticks from making their way into your home or onto your pet. For these reasons, it’s important to use preventative products to reduce the chances that a tick will bite and make your companion sick.