Q: My dog Jasper gets lots of ticks. My friend advised me to put alcohol on the tick to loosen its grip so it will be easy to remove, but that isn’t working. How do you suggest I remove ticks?
A: Don’t apply anything – alcohol, petroleum jelly, nail polish or a flame – while the tick is still attached. Doing so will only annoy it, causing it to regurgitate its gut contents, including disease-causing bacteria, into Jasper’s body.
If you’re seeing ticks on Jasper, you should use a product that repels them before they attach. Options include drops you apply to the skin every month and tick collars. Alternatively, you may give Jasper a pill that kills ticks soon after they bite and lasts for one or three months.
Once the ticks are attached, it’s best to remove them with a tick puller, such as Ticked Off or Tick Twister. A tick puller looks like a tiny spoon or fork with a slot that holds the tick during removal.
After you remove the tick, flush it down the toilet or dispose of it in a “tick morgue,” a small jar with alcohol you’ll use throughout the tick season.
Another disposal method is to tape the tick to a blank card, write the date and Jasper’s name on the card, and seal it inside a plastic bag for a month or two. If Jasper gets sick, take the tick to your veterinarian who can identify it and treat his illness.
Finish the tick removal process by washing your hands and Jasper’s skin to remove any disease-causing bacteria carried by the tick.
Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine in Pennsylvania. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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