Ticks

I’ve had experience with ticks; too much experience. I fostered a dog a couple of years back that was covered in ticks. When I picked her up from the shelter she was so dirty and smelly I hated to put her in my car. Instead of taking her home straight home, I took her to my favorite groomers and had her professionally bathed; they cleaned her up and picked off about 30 ticks. After that I had to check her daily for weeks to get rid of the babies. Now when spring arrives I make sure I start my regular tick checks on my current pets. I use the tweezers method below for removing them; but I’m always on the outlook for another method; so I was really excited when I saw this posting about easy tick removal on Facebook this week.

Apply a glob of liquid soap to a cotton ball. Cover the tick with the soap-soaked cotton ball and swab it for a few seconds (15-20); the tick will come out on its own and be stuck to the cotton ball when you lift it away.

When I find advice on-line that sounds too good to be true I Google it; which is what I did as soon as I saw the liquid soap advice. Unfortunately, according to Snopes.com the above claim is false.

This is the method I use to find, remove and kill ticks:

How to find ticks

Run your hands over your dog’s body, feeling for pea-sized lumps. If you feel something, spread his fur so you can get a close look at the skin. Ticks can attach anywhere, but common spots are the ears, head, neck, shoulders, and between the toes.

What you’re looking for: Tear-shaped bodies with eight legs. They can be as small as a sesame seed before a meal, or, when engorged with blood, about as large as a pea. They can be brown, black, tan, or reddish.

If you find a tick attached to your skin or your pet, there’s no need to panic. There are several tick removal devices on the market (I’ve used The Tick Tool ™ shown below and love it), but a plain set of fine-tipped tweezers will remove a tick quite effectively.

The Tick Tool

Avoid folklore remedies such as “painting” the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly, or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin.  These old tricks can actually make matters worse by irritating the tick, causing it to expel disease-carrying fluids into your dog (not to mention the danger of burning your dog with a match.)

How to remove a tick (from CDC website)

  1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
  2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
  3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.

Tick Removal image

Follow-up

If you develop a rash or fever within several weeks of removing a tick, see your doctor. Be sure to tell the doctor about your recent tick bite, when the bite occurred, and where you most likely acquired the tick.

Kill the tick

Once you remove the tick it’s important that you dispose of it in a way that keeps it from attaching to anyone else. Drop the tick into rubbing alcohol to kill it. These hardy buggers can survive being flushed down the toilet or drain. Squeezing the tick with your fingers isn’t recommended, as the fluid that comes out can cause diseases.

  1. Fill a small jar with 1/2 cup of isopropyl rubbing alcohol. The alcohol level must be deep enough to submerge the tick.
  2. Drop the tick into the jar of alcohol to kill it. Remove any additional ticks and drop them in the jar as well.
  3. Place the lid tightly on the jar. Keep the ticks for a couple of weeks in case the host becomes ill as a result of a tick bite. The dead tick could help a physician or veterinarian confirm the cause of illness.

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Further reading:

http://www.cdc.gov/ticks/

http://dogtime.com/find-remove-ticks.html

http://www.oes.org/html/how_2_identify_different_ticks.html

http://www.healthypet.com/PetCare/PetsMatter/ReadMore.aspx?volume=May_June_2012&title=Ticksdontjumptheyclimb&type=VSA

http://www.dogtime.com/parasites-in-dogs-fleas-ticks-aaha-dc2.html

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