The Best Way to Remove a Tick
Like head lice are to every parent of school aged children, ticks are every pet owner’s nightmare!
No doubt one of the most googled questions between May and September will be… How to remove a tick?
It is believed that 1 in 3 dogs are bitten by a tick, this was found in the largest UK study in 2015. And reported cases of Lyme disease a year (2022) is thought to be closer to 2,000 - 3,000.
Having worked within the veterinary and pet industry for many years, to my surprise this is still a very unknown topic. I am far from an expert, no more than someone who developed an interest in learning about ticks and the impact they have on animal and human lives. Over the years I have heard all sorts of horrors stories on how people have removed ticks from drowning in vodka to pulling out with fingers.
Ignorance is bliss… or is it?
So many people either don’t know or chose to ignore, that ticks are extremely sensitive and become stressed very easily, and that they have the potential to cause serious and potentially life changing illness… How?
Once a tick has latched onto the host, it will feed on the hosts blood, slowly getting bigger. When you try to remove a tick either drowning it, smothering it, rubbing it in a circular motion, pulling it off or one of the many other crazy ways, you are unknowingly stressing the tick out.
When a tick gets stressed, it regurgitates (vomits) the contents of its’ stomach back into the host (cat, dog, or human), potentially infecting the host with a tick-borne disease such as Lyme disease.
You will never know if a tick that has bitten you is infected or not until afterwards.
Ticks feed on birds, rats and other mammals that carry the bacterium in their blood, and they then pass the bacterium into a host, when they are having a blood meal on you or your pet.
A tick needs to be attached to a host for about 24 hours before the disease can be transmitted, that is why quick and safe removal is key.
According to a study by the French Public Health Agency Ticks in the nymph stage seem to be responsible for most disease transmission: more than 80% of bites in some regions are said to be caused by nymphs.
How do I prevent ticks?
There are many ways that I try to prevent Chester from getting ticks but there is only one way I remove them, whether that be from him, the cats, my children, the better half, or myself and that is by using a Tick Twister. Despite another myth surrounding ticks there is no right or wrong way to twister them. In our crazy household we have lefties, righties and then the show-offs that are both, this is what makes a Tick Twister all the more user-friendly.
Once removed, I keep the tick in a container or a zip-lock type bag and put it in the freezer for a month or so, because if any of us get ill we can take it to the vets or doctors for it to be tested. One thing I have done for my daughter when she had one was, I insisted on her being prescribed a two-week course of Doxycycline antibiotics as a precaution.
With Chester it has been easier to prevent ticks than it has been with the cats. We had to remove a few last year, despite having spot on treatment.
- With Chester, I have him regularly groomed so it is easier to find any if they do latch on.
- I wash him weekly at home using Nanosanitas male shampoo either the skin or fur, I tend to alternate. But it’s the silver particles that help prevent ticks.
- After his walks and he has been rinsed off I put Nanosanitas Multi-purpose lotion on his coat, it helps keep his coat conditioned, keeps the wet dog smell at bay and again the silver particles help prevent the ticks.
- He also has regular spot-on treatment.
How do I remove a tick?
Using the right sized Tick Twister
- Slide the tick between the prongs, keeping the tick twister as closed to the skin as possible
- Twister the tick out, by turning in which ever direction is most comfortable for you.
- Put the tick into a Minigrip bag or container and freezer for a month or so.
- Clean the area with an antibacterial wipe or alcohol gel and be sure to clean your hands too.
To dispose of a tick wrap in a tissue, squash and then flush down the toilet.
Ticks fall off on their own after sucking blood for 3 to 6 days. After the tick comes off, a little red bump may be seen. The red bump or spot is the body's response to the tick's saliva
Tick TipPopping your clothes in a dryer on a high heat for 15 minutes, this is enough to kill any tourist ticks.
Most humans are infected through the bites of immature ticks called nymphs. Nymphs are tiny (less than 2 mm) and difficult to see; they feed during the spring and summer months. Content source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (USA), January 29, 2020
Ticks are only active in spring/summer
Wrong, ticks can be active all year round if the temperature is above 4° a tick can survive and be active.
You cannot get bitten by a tick in towns and cities
Wrong, while ticks are more commonly found in; moorlands, forested areas, heathlands, they are also found in town and city parks and even can be picked up from your own back garden.
I haven’t had a bull’s-eye rash, so I don’t have Lyme Disease
Wrong, only around 20% of people who get Lyme disease get a rash and then the rash does not always show up in the area where you were bitten.
People don’t get bitten by ticks so cannot get Lyme disease
Wrong, ticks can and do attach to humans. Ticks that transmit diseases to your cat or dog can also transmit many of the same diseases to people.
Ticks can fly
Ticks do not have wings, so therefore they cannot fly. People also mistakenly believe that ticks drop from trees when a suitable host comes by. This makes people wonder how ticks get into trees and then assume it must be by flying.
Ticks do not fly, run, or hop in order to infest a host. Instead, they climb up on brushy vegetation and wait for a host to pass by.