Detickification: How to Safely Remove a Tick

UPDATED: Nov 14, 2013

We’ve done ticks here before – and I’ve spent a lot of words focusing on the ‘yuck’ factor. Ticks are gross, and not only are they gross, they are gross, too. And just when you thought they could not possibly get any grosser, they do, just lying there, doing the 400 meters in the gross Olympics and taking home the gold.

But, what does one do if one is faced with a tick that has attached itself to one of your beloved pets. The next stop could be you, right? And that’s (you guessed it)… gross. Ticks spread disease, they make the world grosser and they are easily preventable. But if your prevention plan has not been put into effect and you have to ply the little sucker (literally) out of your beagle’s backside, I am here to help.

There is a whole library full of bad, dangerous and silly urban-legend-ish misinformation about tick removal out there and I want to dispel some of it. You could spend your whole life debunking the latest old wives’ tale about tick removal and only scratch the surface. Some of the whacky things that people would have you do to remove a tick include:


  • Douse it in kerosene (sure, it will get rid of the tick, but also your dog, your eyebrows, your house…)
  • Cover it with Vaseline to drown it (you will have a live tick with satiny smooth skin)
  • Cover it with a cotton ball soaked in liquid soap (you will have a live tick that is much cleaner)
  • Buy it a one-way plane ticket to Weehawken, New Jersey (ticks are deadly afraid of airports – they won’t even make it through security)
  • Touch a recently blown-out match to the tick (especially dangerous if you have performed the first one on the list)

Needless to say these things are just nuts, and far worse – they can be dangerous. I mean – Vaseline…seriously. Who knows what could happen?!

Here’s what you do when faced with an embedded tick:

1) Grab the tick with tweezers – near the head. (Try the SENTRY tick remover. It makes for a very easy tick removal process).

2) Pull

That’s it.

I forgot to mention that tucked in amongst the lore about removing ticks is the also-ridiculous lore about what happens if a tick head stays in your dog, as if the dead tick head is somehow magically worse than the live tick head that was just stuck in there and sucking up blood. It is possible that you may get a wee little eensy micro abscess or pocket of pus as the body tries to eject the now-dead tick head from its former cozy resting place in your Dalmatian’s derriere, but nothing bad will happen. People seem to be afraid that the tick head will somehow magically reanimate and start making plans to redecorate your living room (“Either those curtains go, or I do!”). If you feel the urge, or have the ability to pry the little grody tick head out with the tweezers, feel free but there really is no need.

There is a handy gizmo on the market that is specifically designed to fit around the tick head and lift it out, with less of a chance of the head staying in, so if you want to send the tick off to the tick underworld with his head still attached you may want to look into one of these devices (pet specialty retailers usually carry them). You can also achieve much the same effect if you scrape the tick out (rather than pulling) with the edge of a credit card. (See attached illustration done by my assistant Ervin. He spends a lot of time playing with that home lobotomy kit).

If the thought of even coming near the tick sends you into fits of apoplexy, however, you have a couple of options. You can still apply SENTRY Fiproguard and the tick will die and fall off in short order or, as mentioned before, try the SENTRY Tick Remover.

Ticks: They are gross, but ticks are preventable. Skip the kerosene and cotton balls and apply some SENTRY Fiproguard today so you don’t even have to worry about the above advice. But if one happens to sneak in before you have a chance to apply it, now you have the tools you need to safely remove the tick.  I think using your credit card at the pet store for prevention is way better than using it to scrape off a tick!

-Photo Credit: From flicker by Jixar



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