If you care for a dog or cat, chances are at some point they'll pick up a tick. Removing these pesky critters is easy if you follow a few simple steps. Be sure to remove ticks with a pair of tweezers, because if you use your fingers it's possible for the tick to transmit disease-carrying organisms to you.

  1. Grab the tick by the head or mouth parts where they are attached to the skin. Do not grab them by their body.
  2. Don’t yank them out! Instead, pull firmly and steadily outward without twisting.
  3. Applying a hot match, petroleum jelly, or alcohol will not cause them to "back out". Instead, it may in fact cause the tick to deposit more disease carrying saliva into the wound.
  4. Ticks are not killed by flushing them down the toilet. Instead, place the tick in a cup of alcohol to kill it after removal.
  5. Clean the bite wound with a disinfectant.
  6. Wash your hands thoroughly.

If you find your pet is often being plagued by these bugs, consider using a flea and tick control product. Keep in mind, some are better than others! Be sure to read the description as some products only protect against fleas during specific times of their life cycle. Avoid using flea collars. They are effective for only short periods of time, and they tend to only repel the fleas around the animal's neck and do little for the rest of the body. Most fleas will simply find a spot to hang out at the other end of the animal's body.

For basic preventative care or mild flea cases, consider using a natural product. They contain no harsh or toxic chemicals that can do damage after prolonged use. "Spot-on" products should ideally be used only for severe cases. Despite what the advertisements might claim, over-the-counter and vet-prescribed topical treatments are pesticides that will enter their organs and intestinal tracts and can have lasting damage. All of the "active" ingredients in spot-on products have been linked to serious health effects in laboratory animals.