Tick Removal

Proper tick removal is very important for several reasons. First of all (and most importantly), it helps to ensure that there is no continued risk of pathogen transmission from the tick to your pet. It also decreases the risk of a localized skin infection at the site of the tick bite. From the perspective of tick identification, proper tick removal is also needed so anyone examining the tick can look at all of its features and be more confident in the tick’s identification.

Doing your tick check

 

Ticks can be difficult to see on an animal, especially if is not yet engorged or you have a very fluffy pet! 

 

It’s good practice to do a tick check whenever you come in from outdoor activities, regardless of whether your pet is on tick preventative or not. It’s easiest to think of this as a whole-body massage for your pet! Look through all your pet's fur or hair and pay particular attention to the belly, limbs (including between the toes) and head, where contact with tick habitat is greatest and therefore ticks are most likely to be found. 

A good belly massage can also serve as part of your tick check. 

Preparing for tick removal

 

If you do find a tick, your job of tick removal will be much easier if you have all of the supplies ready. The supplies you will need are:

  • tweezer or a tick puller

  • gloves

  • some sort of storage container for the tick (e.g., plastic baggie, pill vial)

  • gentle antiseptic skin cleaner 

 

If possible, have someone assist you with holding your pet. Some sort of reward, like a treat, is also a good idea so your pet views this as a positive experience. This will make your pet much more likely to cooperate in the future if another tick needs to be removed.  

Proper tick removal

 

Here’s a step by step guide to tick removal:

  1. Put on your gloves.

  2. Have your assistant give your pet a nice firm hug to prevent excess wiggling.

  3. Clear the fur away from the tick.

    • If you are using tweezers (photo (a)), position your tweezers to firmly grasp at the site of tick attachment without grabbing your pet's skin. In one steady firm movement (and without squishing the tick), pull upwards (i.e., perpendicular to your pet’s body) to remove the tick. 

    • If you are using a tick puller (photo (b)), follow the instructions on the package. Most tick pullers have a notch that you can slide under the tick to grab it and easily remove it. 

  4. Do not dig or pick at your pet’s skin to make sure you got it all out. This can increase the risk of a skin infection.

  5. Place the tick in the storage container.

  6. Clean the bite area with a gentle antiseptic solution. 

  7. Praise your pet and give it a treat.

  8. Remove your gloves, wash your hands and clean your tweezers or tick puller.

  9. Report your tick finding on the Pet Tick Tracker. Send it to us if you'd like help with species identification.  

(a) Tick removal with tweezers.

(b) Tick removal with a 'tick puller'.

PETS AND TICKS!

In 2016, Dr. Scott Weese of the Ontario Veterinary College launched the Pet Tick Tracker to help monitor changes in tick populations. Through this online tool, pet owners could submit reports of tick findings - and the response was overwhelming! He's now teamed up with Drs. Katie Clow and Michelle Evason to create Pets and Ticks - a comprehensive website that brings the Pet Tick Tracker together with up-to-date, evidence-based information on ticks in Canada.  

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E: petsandticks@gmail.com

© 2018 by JS Weese & KM Clow.
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