Ticks are grey/brown in colour, relatively small and egg-shaped and can really cling to a pet’s skin.
They suck blood from their host, swelling in size and becoming darker. Not only is the act of sucking blood potentially dangerous, but some can also pass on diseases.
Ticks are most commonly found on dogs, who walk through tall grass and woodland in summer. But they can also be found on cats and other small pets. Humans can also pick up ticks by walking in long grass, where wildlife live.
How do I know if my pet has a tick?
As a tick feeds on the blood from your host, it will grow in size. You will then be able to feel the tick on their skin – it will feel like a small bump.
On closer inspection, you will see a large brown spot with eight legs. This is around the same size as a large pea. Think a marrowfat rather than a petit pois.
Sometimes, they can start out as very pale, almost white creatures. While most are spotted after feeding, you really need to be checking your pet for fleas, ticks and other lumps and bumps every day when grooming.
How do I remove a tick?
Twisting the tick off your pet’s body is the best solution. This way, the whole body is removed.
If you pull, the head of the tick may remain attached to your pet’s body. This could cause any disease that the tick is carrying to be passed on, and the site of the bite may also become infected.
You will need a dedicated tick removal tool. Don’t use human eyebrow tweezers as you won’t be able to get the correct twisting motion or enough grip on the tick.
Don’t use your fingers to crush a tick, as again it could leave part behind. They also carry diseases, and crushing a tick could mean the blood from the tick goes everywhere, spreading this disease further.
Instead, follow the steps below:
- Gently part your pet’s fur so you get a full view of the tick
- Slowly push the tick remover tool underneath the tick
- Grasp the tick firmly, and then twist it in a clockwise direction
- Repeat this a few times until you feel the tick come loose
- Observe your pet’s skin to ensure the tick is completely removed
How do I dispose of a tick?
As mentioned, you need to ensure you don’t squash the tick, which could release infected blood everywhere.
So, before you start, you should be prepared. Grab a small jar with alcohol in, or damp thick tissue such as kitchen paper. Pop the tick in the alcohol until it dies, before disposing of it down the drain, or pop it in the tissue before flushing it down the toilet. Always wash your hands afterwards.
A dish of water and liquid soap will also kill the tick, if you don’t have alcohol in your home
Wash the affected area afterwards, with soap or a pet wipe. You should also disinfect your removal tool.
Can I use a topical treatment to remove a tick?
There are some spot-on treatments out there that claim to kill ticks. Most come as standard with flea treatment.
These are good, as it means the ticks are feeding on blood that has been treated with the spot-on – which can’t be doing them any good. But removing a tick physically is always better.
Most preventative spot-ons won’t stop a tick from latching onto your pet’s skin. It just stops the tick from thriving.
Don’t use a product that claims to kill a tick. You can buy tick freezers that you spray onto a tick to immobilise it before removing, but don’t think that using that is job done. You still need to use the tool.
Which pets can carry ticks?
While ticks are most commonly found on dogs (who are taken for long walks), ticks are also found on cats.
If you have other pets in your home, however, such as guinea pigs and rabbits, it can be common for a tick to fall off your dog or cat once the job is done, and then latch on to another animal. This is especially relevant if they share the same space. Perhaps your rabbit goes outdoors in a run when your dog is also outside, for instance.
Therefore, don’t take for granted that your animals who don’t go outside as often will be protected.