Tick season is upon us and I wanted to give you a refresher (or a first lesson) in tick removal. Ticks will attach to their host (your pet or yourself) by grabbing a mouthful of skin and holding on for dear life. There are many rumors about how to proceed with their removal, but the best and easiest is this: pull it out. Yes, there is more. Be sure to grab the tick as near to the surface of the skin as possible. If you have fingernails to help, that’s good, but don’t pinch the tick off. Pull with steady and firm pressure until the tick releases. Once released, you can confirm that you got all of the critter by checking him. His legs will be flailing against your fingertips and his tiny head and even tinier mouth usually has some skin in it. Gross, but true. You do want to remove the entire tick to prevent localized infection and transmission of disease.
The topically applied flea and tick preventatives often work to kill the tick before it is able to transmit disease. Lyme disease is the commonly known one – it is transmitted by the deer tick in this region. Other ticks transmit other blood-borne disease. It is best not to wait for the product to work if you do find the tick, simply remove it as described above. If you miss one, the product should take care of it for you.
Dr. Amy Hellard
West Chester Veterinary Care (WCVC)