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Do you know how to properly remove a tick?

author Lucy Byrne | Care and raising

Even though the principle does not differ from removing a tick on a human, removing a tick on a animal is that more complicated that the patient often doesn’t cooperate or won’t stay calm for long. However, to decrease the risk of infection as much as possible, it is very important to remove the tick as soon as possible and the right way.

Never lubricate the tick with any cream or oil

When I was little, a tick was usually lubricated with cream or oil before it got removed. But now we know, how counterproductive that was. Since this will cause the tick to choke and it might disgorge the gut content into the wound along with the bacteria that cause Lyme disease or encephalitis, for example.

So even if we would have detected and removed the infected tick in time, the infection would probably still have taken place, and on top of that, it would have been our fault.

Don’t squeeze the tick with your hand or tweezers

Although special tweezers are commonly sold for tick removal, it is not the best method. Even with such tweezers, you might squeeze the tick. In such case, the guts might get pushed into the wound and the result is the same as in the previous point. Even without that, you can set off a defensive reaction during which a potentially infectious content of the guts is discharged into the wound. In addition, manipulation with tweezers, at least for me, is not the easiest or the fastest.

Little hook or a card instead of tweezers

The right tool for tick removal is either a little hook or a special card. Both have a V-shaped cutout into which the parasite gets hooked. The card has the advantage that it has two cutouts of a different size depending on the size of the tick and also a magnifying glass in the corner.

Whether we choose any one of these tools, we place it tightly to the skin, pull in the direction towards the tick so that we scoop it into the dent and then we continue with pulling until it lets go or we help it by wiggling. Then it’s enough just to properly disinfect the place of the bite. That’s why I recommend to choose a disinfection that doesn’t burn so much, such as Ajatin.

By such manipulation, there is no possibility of the tick getting squeezed and its guts getting pushed into the wound (a small reddish lump might sometimes appear in the place of attachment – this is a local reaction that will disappear with time, it doesn’t have to be infection).

If mandibles remained in the wound, don’t worry. There’s no risk of a subsequent infection caused by them and the body will cope with them as it does with a stuck splinter. It’s necessary just to check the wound for a couple of days, so that it doesn't get inflated.

Don’t forget to wash your hands after the procedure. Also don’t squeeze the tick between your fingers at any cost, microdroplets of infected blood could get into your eyes, nose or mouth. A safe way how to dispose of the tick is to flush it down the toilet.

And if you want to be sure that the tick wasn’t infected and therefore your fluffy friend couldn’t get infected, you can send it to a lab for testing or bring it to a collecting place in Prague. You can choose what the parasite should be tested for (the standard package that detects the presence of the Lyme disease, encephalitis and ehrlichiosis will cost you 1,990 crowns). You will learn how to book such a tick examination here.

Handy products for tick removal

When removing a tick, you can also use two products for assistance. The first one is Atix. This is a cryogenic spray that will immediately freeze the tick after spraying. Thereby it effectively eliminates any possible further infection. Then you just need to remove the tick which should be easy and fast after the use of this product.

The second product is Klíšťák Ixoderm. You put a drop of this gel on the tick. This way, the parasite is immediately disabled without any defensive reaction being set off. The product disinfects the wound, immobilises the tick, kills and dries it, and solidifies and disrupts the so-called cement layer that holds the tick firmly inside the skin.

When you use it on animals, the issue is that the dried gel is difficult to remove from the fur. But there’s no harm in removing the tick and leaving the remaining gel on the hairs to let it crumble away.

I’ve been using this product for three years both on myself and on the dog and the removal always happened without any issues. The gel dries for about five minutes, so you only have to watch that the animal doesn’t lick it off in the meantime. But maybe, if it will be necessary, I will try Atix this year, the removal might be even easier with it.