Tick prevention and removal

Written by Tanya Whipps RVN
June 4, 2024

Ticks can be about all year round but are more commonly found on our pets as the weather starts to get warmer usually from March to November. During these months it is important to make sure your pet has tick prevention on board. Tick prevention can be in the form or a spot-on liquid for the back of the neck, a tablet, or a collar. You should discuss the best option for your pet with your vet. 

What are ticks? 

Ticks belong to the same family has spiders. They are 1mm to 1cm in length and have 8 legs. Ticks are usually grey or brown and they have tiny pin sized heads that they bury into your pets’ skin to feed from their blood.  

Ticks cannot jump, crawl, or fall onto your pet when they walk through long grass or an area that has lots of wildlife.  

Why are we concerned about ticks? 

Ticks are blood feeders that feed on mammals. In the UK we have about 20 species, most feeding on a specific host such as cattle, birds, foxes, or badgers. We do however have several species of ticks that will feed on any close animal. Ticks can carry many diseases such as Lyme’s disease for example and many of the ones that can affect your pet are also dangerous to humans.  

How do I remove a tick? 

Ticks carry diseases and are very good at spreading these diseases from one animal to another as well as humans. That is why it is important to remove a tick as soon as you see it. Check cats regularly by feeling all over their bodies when they come home or brush your dog after a walk. Ticks like to gather around heads, ears, and necks but they can attach anywhere on the body. 

Ideally, wear rubber / plastic gloves when removing a tick to protect yourself.  

Using fine-tipped tweezers:

  1. Grasp the tick as close to the host's skin as possible and pull upwards with steady, even pressure.  
  1. Do not twist or jerk the tick. This may leave the mouth parts embedded or cause the tick to regurgitate infective fluids.  
  1. Do not grasp the ticks’ body. This can cause blood to be pushed back into your pet and increase their chances of disease

Using a tick hook remover tool:  

  1. Slide the two prongs of the tick hook tool either side of the tick’s body until it is secure. Gently turn the tick hook tool either clockwise or anticlockwise and the tick should detach after 2-3 rotations   
  1. Do not squeeze or crush the body of the tick. Its body fluids (saliva and gut contents) may contain infective organisms.  
  1. Do not handle the tick with bare hands. Infective agents may enter through breaks in the skin, or through mucous membranes (if you touch eyes, nostrils, or mouth)
  1.  After removing the tick, clean the bite site with saline and wash hands with soap and water. 
  1.  DO NOT use petroleum jelly, any liquid solutions, or freeze / burn the tick. This will stimulate it to regurgitate its stomach contents, so increasing the chance of infection 

If you have further questions about ticks or tick prevention, or any other pet health enquiries, call to speak to one of our Registered Veterinary Nurses.   

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