How to Safely Remove Ticks and Fleas From Your Pet
You love your pet—but you don't love the parasites that call your pet's body home. Fleas and ticks are annoying pests that irritate your furry friend by drinking their blood. This can cause your pet to scratch, and can even cause health problems such as Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis. Many of these diseases can pose a threat to the human members of your family, too. If your pet has fleas or ticks, you need to address the problem right away.
The first step to solving any problem is to identify it. First, check your pet for fleas and ticks, and then follow our simple instructions to get rid of these parasites.
Check Your Pet for Ticks
The hardest part about getting rid of a tick may be seeing it. As members of the arachnid family, ticks are related to spiders. They are small, flat and oval-shaped. In dogs or cats with long fur, it can be difficult to find ticks. After your dog or cat spends time outside, particularly in a heavily wooded or grassy area, run your fingers over your pet's skin. Inspect any bumps you come across, as these are likely ticks.
Tricks for Getting Rid of Ticks
You may have heard about burning ticks to remove them. This is not a good way to remove a tick. When ticks feed on your pets, they insert their mouth parts into your pet's skin. Burning doesn't effectively remove the mouth parts, which can cause an infection in your pet.
The American Kennel Club recommends using tweezers with a fine point to get rid of ticks. If your pet gets ticks often, you might also want to try a tick removal hook (available from pet suppliers) or a tick twister device, which we have right here in our office.
Here's how to remove a tick from your pet.
- Part your pet's fur. You may need help from another person to hold your pet down while you remove the tick.
- Grasp the tick with the tweezers as closely as you can to your pet's skin.
- Firmly pull the tweezers straight up. All of the tick, including its mouth, should come off of your pet.
- Dispose of the tick. The Centers for Disease Control recommends getting rid of ticks by flushing them down the toilet, submersing them in alcohol, or wrapping them tightly in tape.
- Wipe your pet's skin with alcohol to disinfect it.
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Inspect Your Pet for Fleas
Fleas are tiny, dark brown insects. If your pet has fleas, you may see the insects moving through your pet's fur. Comb your pet using a flea comb. If you see small brown flecks moving as you comb, it's likely your pet has fleas. Fleas can be found on any part of your pet's body, but they particularly like your pet's neck, back and underside.
Make Those Fleas FleeSince more than one flea typically infests your pet at a time, fleas can be harder to get rid of than ticks. Here are some ways stop an infestation of these unwanted insects.
- Give your pet a flea-removal pill. These usually work very quickly and effectively.
- Alternatively, you can opt to give your pet a bath using flea shampoo. After the bath, you'll need to use a flea comb to remove the dead fleas from your pet's coat.
- After you've treated your pet with one of the first two options, you'll need to remove any living fleas from your home. Wash all the bedding in your house—your own and your pet's—in warm water to remove fleas. If possible, wash rugs and pillows as well.
- Vacuum carpets and thoroughly clean your house.
Prevent Fleas and Ticks
Flea and tick season comes with the warmer weather of spring and summer. Protect your pet from these pests with flea and tick preventatives. These come in a wide range of options for use, including pills, flea collars and liquid applications.
At South Boston Animal Hospital, we're here for you and your pets. For more information about fleas and ticks or to make an appointment, contact us.
About Dr. Natalie Waggener
Dr. Natalie Waggener has 17 years of experience in emergency work and general practice in Rhode Island, Florida and Massachusetts. She has a special interest in dentistry, wellness care and rehabilitation therapy. She is currently licensed in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island.