We have been in contact with several vets in the area and have confirmed that it is a very early season for ticks. A few of our customers have asked me what to do if they find a tick on their dog, and I have put together a list of instructions below. As a reminder, we require all dogs to be on a flea and tick preventative from April-October.
Many methods have been tried to remove ticks, many of which are not recommended. Applying a recently extinguished match or even a still lit match to the body of the tick will NOT cause the tick to back out and fall off. The mouthparts only let go when the tick has completed the meal. Also, applying fingernail polish will suffocate the tick but will not cause the tick to fall off.
The best recommendation to remove a tick is to use a tweezers or commercially available tick removal device and pull the tick off. Do not touch the tick since diseases can be transmitted. Use a tissue or paper towel to protect your fingers. Consider wearing gloves when removing a tick.
With a tweezers or tick removal device, grab the tick as close to the head as possible. With steady, gentle pressure, pull the tick out of the skin. Frequently, pieces of skin may come off with the tick. Do not twist the tick - pull straight up and out.
If the head of the tick remains in the skin, try to grab it and remove as much as possible. If you are unable to remove the entire head, don't fret. This is not life threatening. Your pet's immune system will try to dislodge the head by creating a site of infection or even a small abscess. Wash your hands. Usually no additional therapy is needed, but if you are concerned, contact your family veterinarian. There are surgical instruments that can be used to remove the remaining part of the tick.