Ticks: Crazy myths about how to remove them.

The sooner a tick gets removed from a victim’s skin, the better. But there is a right way and a lot of wrong ways.

Tick on an arm

Photo from Google Images 

As I sat there as still as I could possibly be, I wondered whether a tick bite could be worse than catching my hair on fire. Yes, when I was a kid my Dad sincerely believed that holding the hot end of a lit cigarette as close as possible to the backside of a tick would cause it turn loose and back out. First, he shaved a little hair from the spot. Then he cut a hole in a wet washcloth and tried to accomplish the task while my little brother held the washcloth in place. Though I don’t actually remember, I’m sure he must have eventually pulled the tick out with his fingernails.

Ticks are indeed an ever-present danger But, the risk increases during spring, summer, and fall months. Not only are the creepy critters more abundant. People spend more time in tick environments then, too.

It’s amazing how many opinions persist about the best method for removing a tick once it’s attached to a person or a pet. Let me know of any “myths” about tick removal that you’ve seen but didn’t make the following list.

Some of the common myths about removing ticks… 

  • Burning them off
  • Freezing them off
  • Nail polish
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Alcohol
  • Perfume
  • Paint thinner
  • WD Forty
  • Dish soap
  • Hot soapy shower
  • Using your fingers

Yes, you can remove ticks by using your fingers, especially if you have long fingernails. But remember, there are two real dangers involved with this method. So, don’t try it!

  1. You run the risk of contracting a disease carried by ticks by coming in contact with the contents of the tick.
  2. You will likely squeeze some of the sludge, which carries pathogens into the pet or person you’re trying to protect. This can shorten the time required for transmission.

Some good news you need to know…

With most tick-borne diseases, you have at least 24 hours to find and remove a feeding tick before it transmits an infection. 

So, you have a full day to find and remove ticks and avoid some really nasty illnesses.

But remember, this only applies if the tick is not squeezed during the first 24 hours of attachment.

Okay, so what’s the best way to remove ticks?

So glad you asked! Medical professionals agree that using tweezers or a specially made scooping instrument is the only safe method to remove ticks.

Even when using tweezers, the correct procedure must be followed to prevent disease transmission.

You can see a great illustration at this link. By the way, I have one of their instruments and it’s the best one I’ve found for safely removing ticks.


Warning: Ticks are a dangerous threat to your health…


Ticks are some of the most repulsive and yet fascinating creatures in our environment.


If you stop right now, look out your window and strain your eyes, you likely will not see a single one.  But trust me, they are definitely present if you:

  • Own a pet (especially a dog)
  • Sometimes see deer in your neighborhood
  • Live near wooded or weedy areas

Ticks pose serious dangers to your pets and your family.  Awareness of those dangerous threats is the first step in protecting your family from tick-borne diseases.

Don’t let all the hype about Zika virus cause you to overlook this more imminent threat.

One of the most frustrating challenges for me as a practicing veterinarian was a canine patient landing on my exam table carrying huge numbers of ticks.  Those unsuspecting dogs literally “dripped” ticks on the floor and examination table with every movement of their body.  The happy, frisky tail-wagging pets not only dripped ticks, they “flipped” them far and wide as well.  You can imagine the staggering task of locating and eliminating them from the hospital.

Ticks in dog's ear

Each of those “tick dripping” dogs was on course for severe anemia caused by the sheer number of blood-sucking parasites.  The reason for anemia in those cases is self-evident and easy to understand.  It’s the real potential for infectious and zoonotic diseases that requires more education and understanding.  No one is more qualified to help you become educated about ticks than your local veterinarian.  Take advantage of their knowledge if you own a dog or a cat.

Most people understand that ticks suck blood from their host. Victims can include deer and other wild animals, pets in the neighborhood and, of course YOU and YOUR KIDS.

But did you know that when a tick sucks out blood, it then regurgitates a dark sludge back into the host’s body? That sludge is what’s left over after the tick’s body has removed proteins from the blood. The sludge becomes the transporter of infectious agents.

The male tick switches frequently from host to host looking for female ticks, happily feeding on and regurgitating into each of those hosts.  You may want to become familiar with a list of diseases transmitted by ticks. Some of the more common ones include:

  • Each of those diseases presents both diagnostic and treatment challenges for humans as well as pets.

Single tick

tick (Photo credit: John Carleton)

The best treatment is always prevention of tick bites! The good news is that there are a lot of steps you can take to protect your pets, yourself, and your family from the dangers posed by these ever-present parasites.  That’s right, ever-present.  First of all, there is no month in a calendar year, which can be considered a “tick free month”.

There are a couple of tick facts that cause confusion about their significance.

One is the different species of ticks and the dangers posed by each species. The other is the fact that seasonal high prevalence within an environment varies with the different species present.  And, for reasons not fully understood, “tick storms” occur from time to time when incredible numbers of ticks burst on the scene in brushy wooded areas.

If you own a pet (yes, ticks do feed on cats, too), visit your veterinarian and follow his recommendations for killing and repelling ticks when your furry friend comes in contact with these parasites.  The very best products available today are about 95% effective.  So, you may also consider fencing areas with trees and underbrush in your yard, thereby reducing exposure to ticks.

Whether you own a pet or not, protect yourself and children when outdoors by applying insect repellants containing Deet.  Doing so could prevent a lifetime of health issues as in the case of Lyme disease.  Yes, Lyme disease is most prevalent in the northeastern USA where the deer tick is most common.  However, the disease is spreading into new areas every year. And, in our highly mobile society it can be a threat in any location.

 Lyme Dz Risk Map

English: National Lyme disease risk map with 4 categories of risk. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is a neat and helpful website where you can access all sorts of information about ticks and other parasites. There you’ll discover more steps to take in protecting your family while enjoying pets and playing or working outdoors.  Also, learn even more by clicking on the highlighted words within the post!

If you know someone who likes hunting, fishing, picnicking, hiking, gardening, or owns a pet, feel free to share this article.

And, if you’re a veterinarian or other animal healthcare professional, I’d love to connect on LinkedIn

Sometimes change is the last thing your business needs.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, this small business in Birmingham, Alabama is thriving by resisting the urge to make changes.

2016-05-16 10.18.36

Eagle’s Restaurant opened for business in 1951. That year the average US family income was $3700 per year and the first tests for Color Television Pictures were broadcast from Empire State Building.

Owned and operated by the same family since 1974, their tradition has always been to offer delicious food at affordable prices. They are committed to serving the highest quality meats and vegetables available.

Lots of restaurants these days boast a similar commitment to serving high-quality meats and vegetables. And, many of them honor that commitment. But, very few maintain a robust host of loyal customers after 65 years of operation.

While enjoying a flavor-packed lunch, this writer noticed some palpable characteristics that every business should plan to emulate. Here is my list of the top five.

  • The business is contextualized. 

Eagle’s Restaurant is an integral part of its neighborhood. The people who work there understand their customers on a deep level. The product they offer meets a need for a high percentage of their neighbors. The neighborhood (and many outside the neighborhood) would be sad if somehow this business disappeared.

Diners who are attracted from distant and different neighborhoods come for more than the great food at affordable prices. Everyone wants to be part of a unique experience where passionate supply and unmet needs intersect.

Even in a digital environment, businesses must understand and connect with people who need their products and services.

  • The owners demonstrate pride and humility. 

Who’s behind the counter, serving customers? The owner is there serving and managing the flow of activity. He was on the scene before the sun came up; making sure the quality of the product always meets their standard of excellence. He’s there because, as he says, “It’s an honor for me to be able to serve my customers every day.”

Clients and customers deserve excellence. They know it when they see it and when they don’t. Everyone benefits when business leaders understand how to combine pride in their product and enough humility to do the hard work.

  • The product is consistent. 

This characteristic of Eagle’s Restaurant was made evident by the words of a long-time customer. She quickly added, “And they better not change anytime soon.”

Consumers are frustrated by an overwhelming variety of choices. It should not be difficult to find the product you found and liked last month. Once a business produces something that meets customer needs, it’s time to “rinse and repeat”. Studies show that fewer options translate into more cash for the bottom line.

  • They make it easy to buy their products.

Eagle’s Restaurant is a small business. The facility can only seat 24 diners at a time and they serve lunch only six days a week. Yet, they serve hundreds of customers every day. They accomplish this with two key strategies.

First, they use the common practice of take-out orders. It’s a strategy that multiplies capacity exponentially. But it’s the second ingenious strategy that potentiates the first.

As customers come in the front door they see what appears to be a buffet. But, it’s not a buffet because customers only need to decide which combination they want from a menu. The server then fills the order and moves on to the next customer.

To create a powerful customer experience ask yourself, “What can we do to make life easier for our customers?” 

  • They’ve created a happy culture.

Carefree, delighted, blissful, satisfied: the synonyms go on and on, but people are attracted to a business that exudes a happy atmosphere.

Owners, customers, and employees all reap benefits from association with a business that maintains a happy environment.

Businesses of all sizes can benefit from incorporating these five characteristics into their current strategies. It’s hard to argue with long-term success.

7 killer moves to boost efficiency and have fun at work

Here’s how to enjoy your team, your work, and higher profits.


Every business struggles with how to improve efficiency throughout its existence. Of course, that’s because the rewards of increased efficiency are savings of time and money, which leads to higher profits.

Did you happen to watch the NCAA Women’s National Championship game between UConn and Syracuse? What impressed me the most was the reaction of UConn coach Geno Auriemma to every hint of inefficiency, even while his team was ahead more than 20 points. His body language displayed his determination to coach his players to never stop improving their efficiency on the court.

Unless you’re satisfied that you and your company are rolling along at peak efficiency, consider the following moves to give it a boost.

Hire the right people… 

Always look deeper than skills and education. Taking time and asking the right questions can clarify whether a person is likely to fit into the culture of your organization. Wide gaps between your values and theirs serve as warnings of damaging conflicts in the future.

The reverse is also true. It’s easier, and more efficient, to hire people who already agree with your philosophy.

Hire enough people… 

Hopefully, you didn’t have to learn this lesson the hard way, like I did. In the early days of my veterinary practice, I missed an opportunity to help it grow faster and more efficiently by failing to hire enough people to help me keep up with the pace. Instead of saving money by delaying the addition of more personnel, I lost money both in the short term as well as the long-term. “How’s that?” you ask.

Our reduced efficiency brought on by insufficient staff prevented us from giving each client the outstanding service we would have been capable of providing. Hence, reduced positive word-of-mouth advertising.

Refine and utilize your strengths and those of team members… 

Business leaders often fall into the trap of trying to do everything themselves. Sorry to have to break it to you, but you’re not going to get very far that way.

Do what you know you’re good at doing. Then, discover the strengths of those around you and empower them to excel.

It seems intuitive to empower others to take action in order to improve efficiency. However, doing so requires trust and a level of courage in the beginning. It gets easier once your people have a chance to prove themselves.

Leverage the power of digital marketing… 

The smaller the business, the more powerful this leverage becomes. A good website, email marketing campaigns, newsletters, podcasts and much more are just as available to a small business as they are to large corporations.

Never before has the cost of getting your product or service to market been less expensive. Plus, it all comes with 24/7 exposure.

Cultivate a happy office culture…

I know. This is not a new idea by a long shot. But, it won’t happen without some intentionality. Consider some of the benefits associated with a happy workplace and it’s easy to understand why efficiency will be a natural result.

have fun at work

In a happy workplace, people:

  • Stay healthier
  • Earn more money
  • Are more creative at problem-solving
  • Are less likely to look for a different job

In fact, making moves to enhance happiness in your workplace may be the most efficient route to improving efficiency in your company.

Consider failure to be your best friend…

Let’s go back to the basketball analogy. Players whose teams make it to the NCAA basketball playoffs seem to be unaffected by failures like committing a foul or a turnover, or shooting an “air ball”. If they ever run to the other end of the court, but leave their mind back where they just made a mistake, more mistakes are going to happen. Even Michael Jordan says he missed a lot more shots than he made. Obviously, he knew the secret of learning from his failures.

In this blog post, Belle Beth Cooper recommends the following aids to making the most from mistakes:

  1. Start a journal and document your mistakes.
  2. Review past mistakes.
  3. View decisions as experiments.

If every mistake becomes a stepping stone toward efficiency, it will be hard to fail to reach new heights of efficiency.

Build on a foundation of 3 pillars of trust… 

  • Pillar # 1, Trust yourself 

The secret to trusting yourself is preparation. That comes through education, hard work, input from reliable resources, and lessons learned from past mistakes.

  • Pillar # 2, Trust your coworkers

From a post on MindTools, here are three strategies for building trust: 

  1. Lead by example.
  2. Communicate openly.
  3. Know each other personally.
  • Pillar # 3, Give your customers reasons to know, like, and trust you

This one is a well-known axiom, but don’t underestimate it’s potential. With this pillar in place, doing business becomes a pleasure for everyone.

Test these three approaches for building trusting relationships with customers and clients. Read more on this Inc.com post.

  1. Value the relationship.
  2. Be consistent.
  3. Show real integrity.

Leave a comment and share your best moves to improve efficiency.

Then give me a call to discuss how we can work together to market your business. My cell number is 256-221-8295

Steve Pearson, DVM, Freelance Writer



















How to use content to solve pain points of veterinarians.

Vendors of veterinary products, marketing agencies, animal health product and service organizations, freelance content writers, website designers and more have the ability to ease pain points of the evolving veterinary medical profession.


The barrier standing in the way is often a lack of awareness and understanding by veterinarians. Our skills as marketing professionals put us in a unique position to make a difference in the well-being of veterinary practices, pets, and pet parents.
Strategic use of content can help solve many pain points common to veterinary practices.

  1. Emails, newsletters, and blog posts can enhance client compliance.

Young kids go through a stage where they ask, “Why?” to every statement adults make. The truth is, none of us outgrow that propensity.

Follow-up emails after an appointment can reinforce the doctor’s recommendations. That way, clients will understand the “Why” and even the “How to” comply. For the sake of efficiency, write a template for emails to use in various circumstances.

E-newsletters and blog posts allow veterinarians to educate clients on a myriad of subjects they are interested in and need to know as they care for their pets.

2. Integration of an educational website and social media are essential to practice growth.

The only veterinary practice not in need of a quality website is one not interested in growing. Phone book ads are antiquated. Clients of all ages depend on websites to find local vet practices. Period.

That fact has moved the chance for a first impression from the landscaping around veterinary hospitals to smart phones, tablets, and laptops.

Those same current and prospective clients spend a lot of time on social media, too. That’s good news! Now veterinarians have a variety of tools for educating clients about their practice from a less formal approach.

Practices can place themselves in front of the crowd on social media. The first decision should be how many to use. Most experts agree, focusing on one and doing it well yields the best results. To reach out to clients choose from:


LinkedIn is a great place to join groups of like-minded professionals and form relationships with colleagues as well as clients.

3. A newsletter in their own inbox can assist veterinarians in staying informed about regulatory responsibilities.

Saving time for practice and “life” is like a prized jewel for busy practitioners.

Up-to-date, ongoing regulatory information in practical form could save practitioners time and perhaps even embarrassment.

Imagine how valuable timely emails or newsletters would be to a busy, conscientious practice owner. Especially if the information was presented in an easy-to-absorb format that included examples of how colleagues handle this burning pain point.

4. Newsletters, blog posts, videos, and webinars work hard to help clients strengthen the bond with their pet family members.

The best client is an educated client.

Today’s clients need help plowing through the glut of information on subjects from house training to grooming, and from vaccinations to nutrition.

Newsletters and blog posts go a long way toward client education. And an opinion from their vet carries credibility.

It’s less complicated than ever to produce videos or even webinars. And, they project a personal touch in a way that shows you understand the relationship between them and their animals.

5. Educational websites, newsletters, and webinars overcome “Dr. Google” and put the local vet back into the role of the expert.

Before the internet, and “Dr. Google”, veterinarians enjoyed expert status by default much more than today.

Like it or not, that status is harder to earn than in the past. What better place to work on your image than an important source of the erosion? Yes, that is the internet.

With enough reliable information flowing from you to clients via your website, newsletters, webinars and videos, they won’t have time or the need to search for more.

Before long, you’ll once again be seen as the expert on animal health issues.


Veterinary medicine is a profession facing a growing list of new challenges. Practitioners from new graduates to seasoned owners find themselves faced with pain points which did not exist a few years ago. And, most would agree, there’s reason to believe the rate of change bringing new challenges will accelerate during the future.

At the same time, good content has greater power than ever before to come alongside veterinary practices and offer reinforcement in their efforts to survive and thrive.

5 Pain points successful marketers know about veterinarians


Every marketer understands the importance of knowing what we call “pain points” that our prospects wrestle with in their business life. For those who market to veterinarians, here is some insight written by a retired veterinary practice owner.

Veterinary medicine has experienced tumultuous changes over the past two decades, and pain points for practitioners have expanded and deepened along with those changes. During the past four or five decades, attitudes of pet owners have undergone quite a metamorphosis, too. You guessed it, those changes affect pain points as well.


AVMA.org photo

5 pain points: Some familiar, some new

  1. Client compliance

While not a new challenge, client compliance remains an embedded stressor for veterinarians.

Just ask yourself, “How often do I finish medications prescribed for my pet, and return on time for the recommended follow-up appointment?”

Hopefully,  you are not like some clients who fail to follow through and then blame the practice when the outcome is less than expected.

But, you’d be wise to realize what a nagging challenge client compliance is for practicing veterinarians.

2) Practice growth

Every business depends on growth for survival. It’s critical for small businesses. Veterinary practices are small businesses.

Of course, the need for growth includes measurements like revenue, client and pet numbers, and pet visits per year.

Another important aspect of growth involves implementing the latest medical equipment. Of course, veterinarians desire to offer quality diagnostic and treatment options to their patients. Barriers include the initial cost and a steep learning curve for doctors and staff.

Student debt carried by new graduates from veterinary schools is another challenge to practices wanting to increase the number of doctors on staff.

As a result, a serious point of friction emerges. Growing practices need to offer a variety of services and longer, more convenient office hours, but that is sustainable only with a multi-doctor practice.
How can your company, your products, or your services offer practical assistance to the growth of veterinary clinics?

3) Mounting Regulations

Talk about a double-edged sword! We all want to protect people and pets through careful handling of pharmaceuticals, radiation, and biological wastes. However, burgeoning regulations enforced by federal and state agencies continue to siphon off time and cash from small businesses like veterinary practices.

Meanwhile, with the best of intentions, professional veterinary associations have added to the burden with a flow of changes to their constitutions and by-laws. Simply finding time to stay aware of those changes adds to the stress.

Many practitioners are asking themselves, “When am I suppose to practice my profession and find time for living a balanced life?”

By being sensitive to the time crunch faced by practitioners can help build a business relationship.

4) Human-animal bond

Here’s another sword with two edges.

On one hand, the best clients are often the ones who’ve developed a strong emotional bond with their pet(s). They’ve experienced the joy of loving and protecting an animal who gives back even more. Four decades ago, hardly anyone would admit to sharing a bed each night with their pet. Now, it’s common and almost expected.

On the other hand, strong human-animal bonds raise expectations and responsibilities from veterinary practices. Meeting those expectations demands highly trained staff from the front door to the kennel-grooming. Providing and maintaining quality training is an endless task for practice owners.

How can your company become a valuable partner in training veterinary teams to meet the demands of operating at a high professional level?

5) “Dr. Google”

Every veterinarian who’s practiced more than a week has encountered the client who’s researched the internet. They come into an exam believing they’ve already made a diagnosis and discovered the best treatment for their pet’s ailment.

A well-honed set of people skills is essential when this happens. The doctor must display respect, empathy, and patience to help these pet parents see the value of a thorough exam, history, and diagnostics. A lot is at stake during such a conversation, not the least of which is the health of the patient.

Can you and your company arm veterinarians with resources to educate clients with reliable medical knowledge?


Dr. Steve Pearson helps companies who do business with people in the animal health industry by writing content from the heart of a veterinarian. That’s because he’s been one since 1972.


Contact him today to enhance your marketing strategy with content that speaks the heart language of veterinarians, pet owners and anyone involved in animal health care.




How to make 2016 the best year ever


Use these tools to ensure 2016 is the best year your practice has ever experienced. Leaders (owners) of veterinary practices everywhere are hungry for ways to make 2016 their best year ever. Veterinary professionals who own veterinary practices depend on upward trends to maintain a healthy business.


Everyone in the veterinary community agrees that the best medicine is what we call “evidence-based medicine”. In other words, therapies should be based on verified research. The same should be true for practice management.


The following comments are based on a “State of the Industry report from AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association).


At the foundation of their findings was that 93% of the 1001 veterinary clients surveyed said the bond they have with their clinic is important.


This article will elaborate on each of the five recommendations AAHA made to veterinarians for strengthening client bonding to their practice.


Prioritize people in 2016 

You will notice that each of the five recommendations involves a strong focus on the client. Practicing good medicine is a given, right? But, an intentional effort to bond with clients opens the door for win-win scenarios for the practice, for clients, for the image of our profession and for our patients.

Clients in the survey shared specifically what they need from their veterinarian in order to feel a strong bond.

Clients say they want their pet’s doctor to:

Explain things in a way I understand.

No one wants to be talked down to. But, there’s no need to tell a client

her pet is infested with Trichuris vulpis. They just need to know

three’s an intestinal parasite

called whipworms inside their pet. 

Then, of course, solidify your diagnosis and treatment plan with a pre-written handout to take home.

Share test results with me.

Clients feel they’ve paid dearly for those tests you ran. They deserve more than, “Everything looked okay today”. Or, “it looks like Fluffy has developed some kidney problems”.

Take time to go over every result, normal and abnormal,

and explain how it all relates to the patients health and prognosis.

If there is an elevated number beside creatinine, for example, explain why

that’s significant and what must be done about it.

 Treat me as a partner. 

The veterinary profession is unique in that it operates in a triangle of relationships. That is, of course, the doctor, the animal patient, and the client. 

To be effective, veterinarians must develop a trusting relationship with the patient as well as the client. It’s all too easy to lean too heavily toward either of those.  

This triangular relationship becomes critical after the patient leaves

the clinic and goes home. Once there, the client’s knowledge and awareness

of their responsibilities play a central role in the outcome.

Clients who sense they are in a mutual partnership

with the veterinarian

will be far more likely to be compliant in

follow-up treatments.

 Provide guidance on preventive care. 

With all the non-veterinary sources out there now,

it’s encouraging to know the majority of clients still value our guidance.

Most understand we are the experts and they are ready to listen;

if we speak up. 

Preventive care guidance is so much more than a vaccine schedule. In fact, it involves a process for the life of each pet. And veterinarians should initiate the conversations. Here is a list of a few important areas to focus on during and between visits.

  • How to choose the right breed.
  • Early training.
  • How to avoid behavior problems.
  • Dental care.
  • Breed specific tendencies.
  • Geriatric care.

 Explain the value every time.


Yes, the best has been saved for the last on the list.  

Countless entities have jockeyed for a place in the pet marketplace. One major result is the formation of a dense fog, which is making it difficult for the public to see and appreciate the value of what veterinarians do for pets.

Only a few decades ago, veterinarians enjoyed a culture of admiration and acceptance with most clients who walked in the door. For whatever reasons, it now requires more intentional effort to convince clients of our medical expertise.

Veterinary medicine has greater value than ever before.

But, don’t assume your clients can see that value

without some help.

Never forget that you, the veterinarian offer education, expertise, and experience that can be found nowhere else.


Dr. Steve Pearson helps companies who do business with people in the animal health industry by writing content from the heart of a veterinarian. That’s because he’s been one since 1972.


Contact him today to enhance your marketing strategy with content that speaks the heart language of veterinarians, pet owners and anyone involved in animal health care.