Removing Ticks Guide
Learning how to find and remove ticks is important for any pet owner. If you live in a wooded or grassy area (the favorite homes of ticks), then it’s even more important.
When it comes to transmitting diseases, ticks are right up there with mosquitoes. They carry diseases such as Lyme and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and they can’t be eradicated due to their large numbers.
In the United States alone, there have been over 200 different types of ticks discovered. These can be categorized as either “hard ticks” (Ixodidae) or “soft ticks” (Argasidae).
The best way to combat ticks is to learn how to find and remove them. You might also consider buying an over-the-counter tick repellent to keep them from ever getting on you or your pet. Tick collars and tick shampoos can also work wonders.
Life Cycle Of The Tick
The tick’s life cycle can be broken into stages called the egg, larva, nymph and adult. In almost all cases, the life cycle is completed in about two months.
Once an egg has molted into a larva, it will begin to seek blood. The tick finds blood by using a type of heat sensor. When it detects a living object (dogs are their favorite targets), the tick will find a way to attach itself.
When it becomes attached to a living creature, the tick will seek an area which allows it to feed easily. The tick then punctures the skin and begins to feed. It will not dislodge itself until is has completed this process.
Once an adult female has completed feeding, she will drop from the host and lay eggs. She will die soon after, but the eggs will once again begin the life cycle of the tick.
Checking For Ticks
If your pet spends a lot of time outdoors, you should consider checking them for ticks on a daily basis. This is especially true if your pet spends time in grassy or wooded areas.
Before checking for ticks, be sure and put on a pair of latex gloves. This will prevent you from coming into direct contact with a tick or the infected skin of the host animal. Diseases carried by the tick can be transmitted in this way.
Once your gloves are on, feel around the body of your pet, paying special attention to the head, neck and ears. Ticks like these areas best, as they provide less hair and more access to the skin. If you discover something which feels like a tiny lump, move the animal’s hair aside and see if it’s a tick.
You can also perform a visual inspection. Small ticks can be tan, brown, black or reddish colored. They have eight legs, and they can be as small as a pinhead. If the tick is full of blood, it will be a grayish color and sometimes as large as a small grape.
Removing The Tick
Once you have found a tick, it’s now time to remove it. The first step is to get your pet in a comfortable position so they won’t struggle against you. Don’t use too much force when doing this, or you might risk injuring your pet.
Take a pair of tweezers or tick removal device and grasp the tick. Pull it out using a slow and steady motion. Pulling too fast can leave the tick’s head attached. Do it right and get the whole thing.
You can then kill the tick either by burning it, suffocating it with fingernail polish or using the tweezers to crush it. Once you’ve killed the tick, dispose of it so that nobody else will come into contact with it (flushing it down the toilet is recommended). Do not use your hands or feet to kill the tick, as infected blood could get on you.
After all the ticks have been discovered and killed, you can apply antiseptic ointment to the bite areas to prevent infection. You should also wash your hands afterwards and either wash the gloves or dispose of them.
Also make sure to clean the tweezers or tick removal device. Tweezers can be disinfected by running them under scalding water, holding them over a flame or pouring alcohol on them. I would recommend that you keep one pair of tweezers for family use and another pair for tick removal (and keep them far apart to avoid mix-ups).
It should also be noted that holding a hot match to the tick or applying fingernail polish will not adequately work. It might kill the tick, but it will not cause it to release from the host. Always pull the tick free with tweezers or a tick removal device to be certain.