Safely Removing a Tick

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Many pet owners know how to help prevent their pets from being exposed to ticks through proper preventive topical treatments. Although it is an unlikely event—especially if you use flea and tick preventive treatments as recommended— if you do find a tick on your pet, our Banfield veterinarians have some advice for removing it safely.

Ticks are small, dark-colored parasites that can range in size from the head of a ballpoint pen to one-half of an inch in length. They attach themselves to a host (which can be a human or an animal) and feed on its blood. As soon as an attached tick is found on your pet—usually after spending time outdoors in warmer weather—it should be manually removed. It is generally accepted within the veterinary industry that removing or killing a tick within 24-48 hours of attachment will prevent the transmission of disease. The most effective way of doing this is to grasp the head of the tick with fine-point tweezers as close to the skin as possible without twisting. Rotating while twisting can lead to mouthparts that are left behind.

Avoid squeezing the body. With gentle, but firm pressure, pull the tick straight out. Do not use fingernail polish, petroleum jelly, 70 percent isopropyl alcohol, a hot match or gasoline as part of the removal strategy. These methods are not effective. If you are not confident that you can remove the tick yourself then you should take your pet to the veterinarian, provided that your pet is not uncomfortable and removal will not be delayed by doing so. Contact your Banfield veterinarian so he or she can examine your pet to ensure that all parts have been removed from its skin.