tick bite

Your dog’s been bitten by a tick. Now what?

Tick season is in full swing now and will remain so for the next 5 or 6 months. Even after November, depending on the weather, ticks can still be active and deadly.

There are right ways and wrong ways to dislodge an embedded tick. A lot has been written about what to do when bitten by these dastardly blood suckers. One thing you’ll read is the suggestion to save the tick and take it to your doctor to see if the tick carried Lyme. They’ll test for other pathogens as well, but with regards to Lyme disease I have talked to personal care physicians and their recommendation in our area of Western Pennsylvania is to assume infection. They’ll automatically give the patient a round of doxycycline. The incidence of ticks carrying Lyme is so high that we must assume the tick is infected.

Now for removing the tick. You will need a simple piece of equipment called a mosquito hemostat. The hemostat is a tool used in the medical profession to clamp blood vessels or tag sutures. We carry them in our stores for the purpose of grappling with ticks. Some articles recommend tweezers; however tweezers leave a lot of latitude for shape and ability of the tool. There are many types. You will need a narrow tip with a strong grip to remove the tick cleanly.

mosquito hemostat

Examples of a strong pair of tick-grabbing tweezers (left) and a mosquito hemostat (right).

The mosquito hemostat will clamp down and is made of stainless steel that has a strong grip when used. Now for removing the tick. Grab the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull steadily straight up. Do not twist or jerk it. Even when great care is taken you might leave the mouth parts in the skin. Your body will heal over the tick mouth parts and eventually expel them. You won’t even know it happens in most cases. You can save the tick if you want in a freezer bag. Store them in the freezer until you decide what you need to do with them.

Once the tick is removed, clean the area with alcohol or an antiseptic and keep your eye on the location to see if there are any red areas. Under no circumstances should you wait to see if there are symptoms of Lyme before seeking treatment. Assume the worst and immediately go see your doctor. That is the safest course of action due to our scourge of tick-born diseases.

Now for some additional information that may be helpful. People wait until they find ticks on their pet to react. Be proactive! Prevent ticks from biting you or your pet in the first place. Putting a flea or tick toxin topical or collar on your pet is fine, but don’t assume that is all you need to do. That is a little short of being careful. You can’t assume 100% effectiveness, and it only takes one bite to cause Lyme Disease. Use your topicals, but also check for ticks and fleas by inspecting your pet with a flea comb on a light or white sheet.

A lot has been made of Seresto Collars the last two years but I prefer Advantix II (Bayer) or Advantect II (Generic). Brand and generic varieties exist for most flea and tick topical applications and collars in our stores. As an example, Advantect II is only $39 for 4 months and Advantix II (Bayer) is between $58 and $63. Save money where it makes the most sense.

Another word about tick control. If you find embedded ticks on your pet, you need to make sure all embedded ticks are removed before using a topical. Recently a customer came in and asked me to examine some bumps on her dog’s neck. I looked at 5 or 6 bumps, cutting one of them open (with her permission), and decided she discovered ticks on her dog and didn’t want to pull them so she used a good topical to kill them. The embedded ticks died and stuck in the dog’s skin. Eventually the skin grew over them, like a piece of sand in a wound. This is very unpleasant. Always be proactive whenever possible. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to call me my McIntyre office at (412) 367-0962.


Information about Advantect II by tevra and Advantix II by Bayer ($59 to $63 per 4 doses).

  1. Pyriproxifen (IGR-growth regulating hormone)
  2. Imidocloprid (original ingredient for Advantage, was not effective as a repellent nor killed ticks, that is not good)
  3. Permethrin (a repellent as well insecticide with great residual. This in my mind is one of the best products.
  4. Cant be used on cats. For cats use CateGo (also available in our stores)
  5. In short they are the same product at a very different price.



Frontline by itself will kill ticks and fleas but not very quickly. Merial is advertising Frontline Gold which is merely a marketing ploy. All they did was add another IGR and claim “new and improved!” but neither of the IGRs in Fronline Gold or Plus kill fleas or ticks quickly.

There are many generics for Frontline and they work… but not fast enough to be wholly effective.


  1. S-methoprene IGR with no killing power
  2. Pyriproxyfen added to Frontline Gold. Save your money.


Regarding Wondercide, a new “wonder” drug


I called the Wondercide manufacturers recently to find out about their claims of efficacy. The active ingredient is cedar oil. They claim it is all natural and all organic. The problem is that it doesn’t have any residual for killing ticks or the fleas. You have to keep spraying the product on the pet to kill the fleas and ticks. In my mind that makes it pretty useless. The liquid has to be directly applied to the tick. This is not much protection.

They claim to have been presented on Shark Tank. I’m not sure what a bunch of MBA and accountants know about fleas and ticks or Lyme Disease. Some dogs are indeed sensitive to the pesticides and maybe this product would be helpful as long as you kept a bottle of it on you at all times. Cedar Oil will act as a repellent after it dries, but I could not find any literature showing efficacy. In short, Wondercide will not ultimately protect your pet. It’s just not practical to keep spraying the pet with the solution. Plus, I think it would be really hard to penetrate the skin on dogs with thick underfur like and Siberian or Akita.


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