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My Pet World: What's the best way to remove ticks?

June 21, 2011|By Steve Dale

Question: I've done what you and my veterinarian have advised to protect my dog from ticks. I have a mixed breed. I check the dog regularly for ticks, and sometimes find them. What's the best way to remove ticks? — B.D., Marietta, Ga.

Answer: "There are new little devices which are marketing specifically to remove ticks," says William Nicholson, of the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Disease at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. "Don't buy them. I feel they're a waste of your money.

"Instead, go to a drugstore and buy a pair of fine-tip forceps or narrow-tip tweezers. Grab the tick and pull straight out; don't twist. You'll have to pull hard to get it out. It may look like a hunk of skin is coming out with the tick, but it's actually a glue-like substance the tick uses to adhere. Now, disinfect the wound."

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Also, be sure to disinfect yourself. Ideally, wear gloves to remove ticks. At least use a tissue to protect your hands. Don't touch anything until you've thoroughly washed your hands with soap and water.

Nicholson says the sooner you remove a tick, the better. If you remove a tick within two to six hours, it's unlikely to transmit disease. You get into trouble once a tick has been on your dog for more than 24 hours.

Ask your vet to recommend appropriate tick control products, Nicholson suggests. Learn more at http://www.petsandparsites.org or http://www.dogsandticks.com.

Q: I'm thinking of adopting a new cat. I've had cats all my life, and this is my first period being "catless." In the past, cats have just showed up at my door. Any suggestions? — B.J., Cyberspace

A: There's nothing worse than being catless. In fact, what you really need are two cats. Animal shelters are never catless.

The most efficient method of finding a new cat may be to let your mouse do the work at http://www.petfinder.com. Search the enormous database for shelters and/or individual animals by geographic location. Visiting the cat you pick in person (bring the whole family) is strongly suggested before adopting. If you can take two cats, look for two adults living together (in harmony) or two littermates.

As the American Humane Assn.'s Adopt-A-Cat month comes to a close, it's important to know that thousands of shelter cats are available for adoption year-round.

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