Advice for Tick Removal

Skin-crawling adventures with dog ticks, deer ticks, and our poor furry victims.


[Updated March 16, 2016]

Is it my imagination, or is a plague of ticks currently in effect? Everywhere I go with my dogs these days, they come back crawling with ticks. I use Frontline on them, though I’ve used Advantix in the past – as well as apple cider vinegar rinses and essential oil sprays and Skin-So-Soft wipedowns. For whatever reason, Frontline seems to work better than anything else on my dogs, in my area, though I hear contrary reports from other dog owners in other places. I’m seriously considering making a line of Tyvek canine coveralls, instead.

tick removal tool whole dog journal

Due to the tick plague, I have to allot extra time for walking the dogs, or rather, for combing them after walks. I pour a glass of water, put a little dish soap in it to reduce the surface tension, and drop all the ticks I find into it as I work. The little insects immediately sink, waving their tiny legs, but not for long.

Every time I have ever mentioned dropping ticks into water, I get letters from people who insist that you can’t drown a tick. I invite you to do some “citizen science” and put your own ticks in a jar of water, and follow this fun activity with observing the results. You can even dry out their little dead bodies afterward to see if they “come back to life.” Trust me; ticks drown.

They can also live without food for a week or two (but not forever) in a jar that contains no water. Ask me how I know.

You can Google these things, but sometimes you just have to see for yourself. Like, when I was reading about ticks the other day (I’m mildly obsessed right now), I kept coming across the stated fact that ticks can’t jump. I just can’t fathom how they are so damn successful at getting all over my dog, who runs like the wind the whole time we’re out on walks, if they can’t at least launch themselves quickly toward something. So, after combing and pulling ticks out of Otto’s coat on our last walk, I saved a few individual ticks in a dry jar, and ran a few trials. I released one tick at a time onto a white plastic folding table (so I could be sure to spot and apprehend any escapees from my “test lab”). They sure do ambulate faster than I could bear to watch for long, but I didn’t observe any jumping activity – but then, I never let them get close enough to the table’s edge for reliable data regarding jumping off something onto someone. I guess I’m going to take Google’s word for that bit of trivia.

There’s just one bit of good news on the tick front: I have discovered the world’s best tool for removing ticks, one that surpasses all previous favorites. It’s called the Pro Tick Remedy, and it features a V-shaped slot that narrows tightly enough to scoop up and pull out even the tiniest, most freshly latched-on tick. It comes on a keychain paired helpfully with a small magnifying glass, so you can confirm that you really did get the whole thing. I bought six, so I could have them stashed everywhere I might happen to be petting Otto and feel a tick. I’ve never been so grateful for something that costs so little (less than $5).

Buy the Pro Tick Remedy and try it yourself!