This is a cautionary tale about trusting Dr. Google instead of calling your trusted vet.
Once upon a time there was a lovely lady who owned a lovely cat. As they sat on their lovely sofa watching what I can only guess was an episode of Lawrence Welk or the Golden Girls, the lovely lady was horrified to find a less than lovely parasite affixed to her precious cat. A tick. A big fat tick!
Well after screaming and running around the sofa a few times, the lovely lady calmed down enough to get in front of her computer and type her predicament into a search engine. Lo and behold, the solution appeared before her. She read what seemed like sound advice “Apply Vaseline to smother the tick and it will suffocate and die”. So she grabbed the longest cotton swab she could find and applied a glob of wonder jelly and waited. And waited. And waited.
Now that little tick was feeling extra moisturized and slippery in all that Vaseline, but he certainly wasn’t smothered. In fact he was wiggling his little legs even more now as if to taunt her.
Back to the computer to find a better solution. “Aha!” she thought, this site is much more reliable. “Apply a match tip to burn the tick dead”. Feeling rather clever, the lovely lady lit a match, blew it out, and applied the burning embers to the tick.
Well it’s a funny thing about vaseline. Seeing as how it’s made out of petroleum, it’s actually quite flammable. Just one touch of a just lit match tip and FLOOM! that lovely cat was now engulfed in flames!!!!
The lovely lady was a quick thinker. She grabbed her flaming cat, ran out her back door, and threw the cat into the pool to put out the fire.
When she finally brought the cat into the vet, she was treated for severe dermal burns, near drowning (fluid in her lungs), and guess what else? Yup- tick removal. It turns out ticks are fire proof and can also swim. Thankfully the cat survived. But in her honor, I provide the following advice:
If you want to remove a tick, it’s very easy. You can buy a tick removal devise (www.ticktwister.com) for a few bucks. Your vet probably has one and can remove the tick for you if you are having an urgent tick-mergency. You can even use tweezers. The reason they say to remove from the head is because if you pinch the body it will pop (and it’s filled with blood so that’s extra gross). There is no truth to the urban legend that if you don’t get the head it will burrow in further and grow another body. They are not zombies or geckos. They are just gross bugs.
If you are in the Los Angeles area, I will add that most ticks in our area do not carry diseases (Lymes Disease, Ehrlickia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, etc.) so other than being gross, they are usually harmless. If you live in other areas, you should check with your local vet to find out if “tick titers” should be run on your pet after tick exposure.