As Australian pet owners, knowing how to remove a tick comes with the territory so to speak. We live in one of the warmest places on earth and ticks thrive in this climate, especially during the warmer months.
We’re also one of the nations with the highest rate of pet ownership on the planet – around two thirds of households has at least one pet! Which means these sneaky little suckers literally have an endless food supply.
But as successful as ticks are, one thing stands in their way: loving pet parents. All of us have heard stories on how to remove ticks, from Vaseline to an open flame or finger pinching, but let’s put these theories aside.
In this article, we show you how to remove a tick from your pet properly and safely.
What you’ll need for removing a tick
To do the job of removing a tick, you need the correct tools:
- Surgical/Rubbing alcohol. You’ll need some surgical alcohol in a jar to kill the tick safely once it’s removed.
- Airtight jar. Once the tick’s safely removed from your pet, keep it in a sealed jar. If your pet develops any symptoms of unwellness, your vet may need to see the tick to identify what type it is.
- Pointed tweezers OR tick removal tool. Pointed tweezers are more like medical tweezers and less like the blunt edge ones you typically have in your bathroom. Specially designed tick removal tools are smart to have at home. They don’t cost much and are designed for the job at hand.
How to remove a tick from cats and dogs
The key to the process is never to squeeze the tick because you might release more of its toxin into your pet’s bloodstream. You can use one of the following methods:
1. How to remove a tick using pointed tweezers
Spread your pet’s fur to get a clear view of the tick. Try to make sure you have good lighting so you can perform the whole removal without any uncertainty. Using the pointed tweezers, grasp the tick as near to the base as possible. Pull upwards with a constant, gentle yet firm pressure.
Don’t make any sudden jerking movements or twists. Your goal is to remove the whole tick including body and mouth, without squeezing or crushing it in the process.
If the mouth breaks off and dislodges in the skin, don’t try to dig it out. It’s better to speak to your vet for their advice on whether to let them remove the debris. If you do it yourself you can cause skin irritation or infection.
2. How to remove a tick using a tick removal tool
Removing a tick with a specially designed removal tool is probably your best bet for easy all round success. The tool generally has two prongs which you slide beneath the tick then gently twist to dislodge the critter.
Once you’re done, clean your tools using surgical spirits and wash your hands well.
This method sounds simple, and it is, but in case you’re a visual learner (and not feeling too squeamish), here’s a video on how to use a tick removal tool:
Tick paralysis in dogs
In Australia, the paralysis tick is the most wanted tick criminal on the continent. A single bite from this tiny beast releases a poison that causes sickness, paralysis, and in worst-case scenarios even death. Every year the paralysis tick infects 10,000 dogs, causing roughly 500 fatalities.
Symptoms of tick paralysis can include:
- Loss of appetite
- Inability to blink
- Inability to move (especially the hind legs)
- Inability to swallow
- Coughing (or a strange sounding bark)
It’s important to remove a paralysis tick immediately, and properly. Then take your pet straight to the vet who can administer an antiserum. Recovery requires a veterinary hospital stay and can take as long as nine days for basic recovery.
Watch this heartwarming video about an Aussie dog named Scooter who survived the deadly paralysis tick through his owner’s fast response. (Note the tweezers in the video aren’t the type you should use. However the tick was removed in time, and Scooter received the veterinary treatment he needed to survive and recover):
Dog insurance for a softer landing
Professional medical treatment for pets can make all the difference between life and death, especially when it comes to tick paralysis. Unfortunately, the costs of professional treatment are a lot like medical treatment for humans. So when you factor in prescription medicines, drips, and veterinary hospital stays, you can imagine the hefty bills.
If you have pet insurance, you won’t need to choose between your pet and your savings in times like these. With pet plans that cover medical emergencies such as accidents, illness and more, your pet will be protected. Get a quote today.