Tick myths busted – tick removal and prevention for your pet

A pet having a tick is every pet owner’s worst fear and removal of a tick is a tricky task. Prevention is the key as a tick can make your pet itchy, sick and generally uncomfortable and what’s worse your pet can pass the tick onto your children or other members of the family.

As well as biting your pet, ticks also emit many pathogens and can potentially carry Lyme Disease. When more than one has attached them they can suck enough blood from your pet that they can become severely anaemic.

If your pet has a tick, it needs to be removed. But with so many myths circulating on how to get rid of these nasty pests, it’s hard to know what is the best method to protect your furry friends. Here we bust the myths and find better ways to treat your pet for ticks.

There are many different species of ticks in Australia including the Paralysis Tick, Indigenous Tick, Cattle Tick, Bush Tick and Brown Dog Tick. The most commonly known, Paralysis Tick, can cause paralysis to animals and humans by releasing a toxin through their saliva. This tick loves to live in temperate areas typically on the east coast of Australia and can kill animals.

Some fabled methods of removing ticks include petroleum jelly, nail polish, burning and freezing them off. These methods not only do not work, but also may end up harming your pet.

Burning a tick carries a lot of risk because lighting a match or a lighter near your pet is very dangerous. Pets have hair and hair is flammable. Burning the tick can also cause problems as ticks are toxic and when popped release poisonous fumes into the air, which are harmful to pets and children.

Freezing using an aerosol based freezing gel is a difficult task if you are not a trained veterinarian, and very dangerous for the animal. Holding the freezing gel onto the animal can be risky as you may use too much gel and still not get the tick out in full.

The myth with petroleum jelly and nail polish is that they will kill the tick by drowning it, and then it can be removed. This is ineffective as it will not take the whole of the tick but will rather leave the head under the skin, which could lead to infection. Ticks are excellent at burying their heads in deep, and so by using these methods you may only remove the part of their body that pokes out of the skin.

Another common misconception is that ticks are only apparent in the warmer months. Ticks are extremely adaptable and have survived on the earth as long as mammals which evolved from fish and started to walk. The weather alone will not kill them off completely as there will always be a nook and cranny somewhere with the right conditions for the critters to survive and multiply.

If you can’t see a tick, it doesn’t mean they’re not a problem. The best preventative is to use an anti-flea and tick treatment on your pet. Just because you can’t see them on your pet doesn’t mean that they aren’t lurking in your backyard waiting to pounce and bite. This is also true for indoor pets, as ticks can be hiding inside your home, being brought in on people’s clothes and shoes. Or your pet could pick one up off another dog when they are taken outside for a walk.

Removing a Tick

The best way to remove a tick is to pluck it out with tweezers or a special tick remover. Grip the head of the tick with the tweezers from under the skin, as just pulling on the sack may squeeze out more venom and cause the head to break off. This will remove the whole of the tick and not just the part of the body poking out of the skin. A tick remover tool has a sharp end that can pull the head out from under the skin. Make sure you kill the tick afterwards.

Prevention is the best medicine

For ticks prevention is the best treatment. Talk to your vet about the best tick preventative gel or medicine for your animal and breed. By using a prevention method, your pet will have a barrier surrounding them that will fight off any nasty little suckers from burying in.

Symptoms to look out for

If your pet starts to show symptoms of paralysis such as a change in your dog’s bark or cat’s meow, trouble swallowing saliva, vomiting and coughing, then take them to your local vet immediately as these are signs of paralysis and should be acted upon fast. If you’re worried about the cost of taking your pet to the vet, it’s worth checking out pet insurance to see what it can offer you in terms of financially managing your pet’s needs.