With the summer months comes lots of fun outside. Now, we don't want to be Negative Nellies, but when it gets to this time of year, there's the possibility you might get a visit from an unwelcome guest. Ticks are nasty little critters that can latch onto people and animals and start sucking blood. They can even spread nasty illnesses like Lyme Disease. We've tried many tick pickers for dogs over the years, and here are our favourites.
Some people are squeamish about removing ticks, and if you are prepared to pay a vet to do it, that's fine. But for those of us who enjoy getting far away from civilisation it becomes more important, because the longer a tick is on your dog (or you!) the more damage it can do, including passing on Lyme Disease.
By far the most effective for us has been this design of tick remover tweezer tool. It works like a little hand grabber claw like the ones you get in arcades.
On one side is a button and when you press it, the claw descends and opens up. Get it snugly under the tick, let go of the button and it clamps shut. Then simply lift the tick up and cleanly away.
If you are looking for an easy way to remove ticks by yourself, this is what we would recommend using.
We've also been known to use these tick twisters, and although effective, we found that they can can be a bit finicky with smaller ticks. This isn't great if you are trying to get a tick off a nervous dog.
With these, the idea is that you slip the fork underneath the tick in between it and the dog. You then twist and twist until the tick pops off. They are pretty handy to carry around with you in a jacket pocket or bag as they are really small and thin.
For that reason, it is probably worth having a couple stashed in the car or lobbed in a bag if you are out for the day.
We've also tried these ones, but they aren't worth the money.
What to do with a tick when you remove it
Once you have successfully removed a tick, make sure you have got it all. This means checking the area for any black dots, or anything sticking out of the skin. If you see something, you may have left the tick's head in there. At this point, it might be a good idea to speak to a vet so you don't push it in any further.
However, if you have removed it, head and all, congratulations! The next thing to do is dispose of the blighter. As much as we love animals, some beasties will just bring illness if you let them go free. If you throw the tick in your garden, it will likely find you or your dogs again. Sam with the bin - these things are survivors and there's a good chance it will crawl or jump back out.
So the best and most humane way to dispose of a tick is to drop it straight into a bowl of boiling water. That way, it is killed instantly. After a few minutes, you can throw it out in the garden or straight into the bin.
How not to remove a tick
So that's how to get a tick off cleanly. What about all the other ways your friend down the pub has suggested?
Well don't even think about using a sharp pair of tweezers/some vaseline/a hot knife either as they can make matters worse:
Tweezers can slice the tick in two, leaving some of it still in your dog and becomes a breeding ground for disease
Vaseline is supposed to suffocate them, but they breath so infrequently that they can still be alive two days after application - well into the danger zone of transmitting disease to you or your dog
And if you pop a hot knife on a tick's bottom, chances are it will drop off. But it might also spew the deadly contents of it's stomach into your dog - which is A Very Bad Thing to Happen.
For more information on ticks, how to deal with them and how to dispose of them, here's the Lyme Disease Action link (which contains photos of ticks, in case you are one of the squeamish ones). Once you have decided on the best tick picker for dogs, take a look at our thoughts on one of the handiest little accessories we bought for when dog walking - the Dickie Bag!