tick removal

We want everyone to know how to safely remove ticks since they are a terrible problem in the Midwest. Most of us pull at least one tick off of ourselves or our pets. Ticks carry diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, and most notably, Lyme disease. 

Most people’s response, when seeing a tick on their pet, is to pull it off fast! But there is a technique to tick removal. By doing it correctly, you minimize your pet’s risk of developing disease or infection. Oakland Veterinary Referral Services wants you to better understand the common deer tick and the proper way to remove them from your pet.

All About the Deer Tick

The deer tick, or black-legged tick, is among the most common of ticks found in the Midwest. They are responsible for carrying and transmitting Lyme disease, among others. The tick is a type of arachnid, belonging to the same family as the spider, and it feeds on the blood of warm-blooded mammals. It has a hard, shell-like body that softens and expands as it becomes full of blood. 

Each female tick lays up to 3,000 eggs in its lifetime. The life cycle of a tick is made up of 3 growth stages: larva, nymph, and adult. Although peak activity for ticks is from early spring through autumn, warmer winter weather can allow ticks to thrive throughout the year. 

Symptoms of Tick Related Disease

Ticks are efficient carriers of disease because they are parasitic, meaning they require a host to survive. Infected ticks spread disease to pets through a bite. It takes as little as 3-6 hours to transmit disease to a pet once the tick attaches to them.

Nymphs (young ticks) are responsible for much of the diseases transmitted to people and pets. They are about the size of a poppy seed and almost invisible to the naked eye. They are too small to be seen, so the pet owner may not notice and remove them. This is why having your pet on a flea and tick preventative is a must.

Many tick-borne diseases are zoonotic, meaning they can affect either humans or pets.

Signs of Lyme and other tick-borne illness include:

  • Stiffness
  • Lameness
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Swollen joints

Learn more about vector-borne disease and your pets, and discuss the right parasite control with your veterinarian.

The Easy Way to Remove Ticks from Your Pet

If you find a tick, it’s important to remove it promptly to protect your pet’s health. To do so, follow these simple steps to safe tick removal.

  1. Gather your supplies; Gloves, Tweezers or tick removal tool (Ideally, don’t use tweezers with sharp edges.), Rubbing alcohol, Antiseptic and or Antibiotic cream
  2. Grasp the tick as close as you can get to the skin, where it is attached, using your tweezers or tool.
  3. Pull it out straight without twisting.
  4. Drop the tick in rubbing alcohol to preserve it in case your veterinarian wants to test it for disease. (You can also flush it down the toilet if you opt not to save it.)
  5. Clean the wound with antiseptic spray or cream.
  6. Wash your hands.
  7. Monitor your pet for the next few weeks for any swelling or signs of illness.

If you prefer to watch a tick removal video, here is a good example. 

Since ticks are a problem in Michigan throughout the year, we recommend following up with your veterinarian about ways to keep these parasites, including fleas and heartworm, away from your furry friend. For more information about how to remove ticks or parasites and pets, please call us