Tick Removal

If you’ve got a dog aboard, you’ve probably already had to deal with removing a tick.  Even with Paz’s flea and tick repellant, she gets a few every year.

And, frankly, both Dave and I have occasionally picked up one while hiking.  We learned to always check both Paz and ourselves.  I had always thought of ticks as being in the woods and it never dawned on me that they could be in the deserts of Baja California . . . but they were. 

The first time it happened, I pulled out the wilderness first aid book we had and was pretty appalled at how it told me to remove the tick.  Holding a match to the hind end of a tick buried in dog fur just didn’t seem like a good idea!  The alternate method of rubbing alcohol and tweezers didn’t work too well, either (we were in the Sea of Cortez with only a tiny fishing village nearby — no vet or extra supplies handy).

Several months later, we made an extended trip back to the US to see family.  While visiting Dave’s son in tick-prone New England, I saw a tick puller hanging by the cash register at a store we were in and quickly bought it.  I figured that it couldn’t be worse than what we’d been doing!

The first time I used it, I was hooked.  It removed the whole tick easily — no body parts left behind, nothing crushed and no pain for Paz.  The only problem was sometimes getting it into place through her fur.  And yes, while it is marketed for dogs, it works just as well on people.  We know this for a fact.  (This one is called “Ticked Off” and if you can’t get the better one below, it’s still a good choice.)

A friend just recently showed me a new improved design that works just as well but is easier to work through fur.  It’s called the Tick Twister — I couldn’t find one at the local Petco and our vet doesn’t carry it, but it’s available on Amazon for $6 to $7.

Great addition to the dog’s first aid kit . . . or yours!

FOLLOW UP: Reader Diane left a note in the comments about the Tick Key, which she thinks works even better.  Here’s the link for it:

And the neat thing about the Tick Key is that it’s designed to hang on a key ring, so it’s easy to keep with you (you can also hang it off a day pack pretty easily).

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20 Comments
  • Diane
    Posted at 06 December 2012 Reply

    Having tried them all and having been in the pet industry, I have to respectfully disagree with you this time, Carolyn 🙁 The best “tool” for tick removal on dogs, people, cats…is called the Tick Key. I’ll try to get a pic and send it to you.

    • Trish
      Posted at 01 June 2014 Reply

      I LOVE my Tick Key, and do have it on my key ring so it’s always with me. It’s thin and light and comes in several colors. Most importantly, it’s very effective at removing embedded ticks (which can cause Lyme disease).
      Trish
      Nova Scotia

  • Hazel Lewry
    Posted at 21 June 2015 Reply

    Try Sapphire Bay Marina in St Thomas – we were picking off up to 15 picks per walk – and we walk our pup 4 times a day. I became an expert at removing them.

  • Connie McMartin
    Posted at 21 June 2015 Reply

    Thanks for this and glad you’re being careful. I have late-stage Lyme. Wasn’t caught early (never even saw the tick or had any type of rash – maybe on the scalp where I wouldn’t have noticed) and it got into my CNS and brought me to my knees. Nothing to mess with. Stay safe, everyone!

    • Connie McMartin
      Posted at 21 June 2015 Reply

      I should add that if you use regular tweezers as opposed to a tick tool like this, you should never twist in those cases, but pull straight out and very slowly (may be obvious to some but I have been shocked at how few people know about it – I still know people who think it is okay to burn or smother – no no!). Get as close to the mouth as possible and not the body where you can squeeze bacteria right into your blood.

  • Joan Peterman Baldwin
    Posted at 21 June 2015 Reply

    Do you have family in WV?

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 22 June 2015 Reply

      Yep, son retired from the Army and he and his wife and 6 kids moved there in the last year.

    • Joan Peterman Baldwin
      Posted at 22 June 2015 Reply

      We live in and love WV but the sea is calling. In two years we hope to be live aboards!

  • Mindee McGeary Cobb
    Posted at 22 June 2015 Reply

    Have seen so many ticks this year and the deer ticks are so small, they’re hard to see.

  • Jill Corbin
    Posted at 02 October 2015 Reply

    Best tick removal tool is ur finger!
    1. Rub the back of the tick in a circular motion until it starts to move, this makes the tick dizzy and the tick usually backs out
    2. Be ready to catch it with tweezers or gloves..

    Jill

  • Becky Croston
    Posted at 09 February 2016 Reply

    In a pinch I read that a credit card works two ways: use the edge to scrape off the fresh tick, and have it as a means to pay the vet if necessary! 🙂

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 09 February 2016 Reply

      Our experience is that the scrape off method doesn’t work, but it may be that Paz has such curly hair that it’s tough to get down to the skin with anything as big as a credit card.

    • Becky Croston
      Posted at 09 February 2016 Reply

      Ahhhh… good to know! We never had ticks be any issue here on our property, but two years ago we ran our springer on a long lead on a biking/ walking trail with huge scotch broom everywhere, in bloom. The ticks go from birds to the blossoms, then jump onto warm blooded animals! We took three off our pup while the ticks were still crawling! ick!

  • Fred Facker
    Posted at 09 February 2016 Reply

    Oh man, I’ve never even thought about ticks while cruising.

  • Mindee McGeary Cobb
    Posted at 09 February 2016 Reply

    While cruising the ICW, our 5 pound poodle picked up 8 deer ticks in South Carolina on a “trip to shore.” After that, my sister-in-law got me one if these twist tick removers. Worked like a champ on a tick she picked up in Pennsylvania during the warm weather before Christmas.
    As a side note, I was shocked to find out that the expensive once a month flea and tick medication I’ve been using for years, only protects against DOG ticks, not DEER ticks which transmit Lyme disease.

    • David Grimm
      Posted at 10 February 2016 Reply

      We’ve been using Trifexi for years. Tent camping in all sorts of places from Wyoming to Texas to N, Carolina and our Yarkie has only had 2 ticks and they never bit in,

    • Mindee McGeary Cobb
      Posted at 10 February 2016 Reply

      I’ve been using Revolution for years and it’s worked while we lived in Florida and Texas. Never saw a single tick in12 years. Now that we are traveling, I’ll check Trifexi. Thanks!

  • Miranda
    Posted at 05 August 2016 Reply

    This website is a Godsend! I am seeing so many useful ways I can apply your tips and tricks for camping. Stuff that camping blogs haven’t been able to provide! Secondly, I am soooo happy you have tips for your dog, Paz. I have a maltepoo (a maltese and poodle mix) 11 month old and we just took her on her first trip. I appreciate someone who can tell me things like grooming and tick removal when you are dealing with curly poodle hair – it’s a whole different ballgame! The boating ideas are not lost on us either, we canoe with the dogs, kayak and maybe one day will get back to the sailboat or take a dream trip down the Mississipi River on a houseboat. Thank you for much wisdom that camping, dog, and other niche blogs have not been able to provide!

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