Ticks are a nuisance for your pets, as well as for us. In many parts of the country ticks are very common, and are the source of many diseases which can affect both us and our pets, such as Lyme disease, ehrlichia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and other rickettsial diseases. Ticks can even cause a condition called tick paralysis, which can temporarily paralyze your pet! There have been many techniques promoted over the years to remove ticks from you or your pets-some of them not very effective.
Drowning the tick with alcohol or suffocating the tick with Vaseline is not recommend, and may, in fact, help stimulate the release of more of the bacteria into you or your pet. Touching the back of the tick with a lighted, or even a freshly blown-out match really worries me, since often, more than just the tick gets burned! The method I like the most basically involves gently pulling or slowly unscrewing the tick from the body. You can either use a pair of tweezers, or purchase a de-ticking tweezer device designed for the same purpose. The key is to grab the tick as close to your or the pet's skin as possible, being careful not to squeeze the body of the tick, and start to gently pull with slow, steady tension, or begin to turn counterclockwise, nice and slowly. You do not want to turn too quickly because you don't want to separate the mouth parts from the rest of the body. If you are going to use the unscrewing technique, after the second rotation, begin to slowly lift away from the skin as you continue to turn, and you'll be amazed how easy the entire tick lifts off-mouthparts and all. Alternatively, a good bath using an effective flea and tick shampoo may be all that is needed to kill and remove the ticks. Whatever you do, you do not want to grab the tick and simply pull it, since most likely the tick's mouthparts will remain behind, and may cause a problem later. Also, it is best not to touch the tick with your bare hands because their saliva carrying the infective bacteria can migrate under your finger nails and possible infect you.
The best treatment, of course, is to try and prevent the ticks from attaching to your pet in the first place. To accomplish this, I recommend any number of available, safe and effective flea and tick products available from your veterinarian, ranging from excellent spot-ons to a few very effective tick prevention collars. I am not a fan of many of the over the counter products since I've found them to be ineffective and often unsafe.