Health

How To Remove A Tick From Your Dog

The first thing you always need to remember to do when you find a tick on your dog is to reassure your pup that they’re a very good boy or girl, tell them not to panic, and that everything is going to be ok. You can say that to yourself in the process as well, if you’d like. You got this!

If this is your first time finding a tick on your dog, don’t stress. Make sure that both you and your dog are both calm so you can remove the tick properly, take a deep breath, and we’ll walk you through all the steps so you can both be playing outside again in no time.

dog in the woods standing on a log

1. Gather The Proper Supplies

To ensure you remove all of the tick and keep the area clean, have the following on hand:

  • Gloves
  • Tick remover tool (or clean tweezers with a pointed end)
  • Rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol)
  • Antiseptic
  • A sealed container
pair of tweezers for removing a tick from dog

2. Expose The Skin

Since ticks are carriers of diseases that affect both dogs and humans, it’s important to first put on gloves. Grab some water or rubbing alcohol to wet your pup’s fur around the tick’s body. 

Part the fur with your fingers and use one hand to hold the fur down flat. Take your time. The tick most likely already burrowed its little head into the skin and shouldn’t move. Good job! Doin’ great!

tick on a dog in its fur

3. Remove The Tick

Using a tick remover is the preferred method; since the tool is designed to fit under the tick’s body, it can be pulled out intact without squeezing. If you don't have a designated tick remover tool lying around, tweezers with a pointed end will do the trick (try to avoid regular flat-edged tweezers as they can inadvertently squeeze the tick's body and expel more saliva into your dog's bloodstream.

  1. Gently press the tick remover against your dog’s skin and slide it underneath the tick’s body. If using tweezers, carefully grab the tick as close to the skin as possible without pinching your pup.
  2. Pull the tick out slowly away from your dog's body, in a straight and steady motion. Don’t jerk, twist, or rip it out—you want it in one piece.
  3. Phew! Great job. Deep breath!
tick between dogs toes

4. Clean The Tick Bite

  1. Gently wipe the entire area around the tick bite with pet-friendly antiseptic.
  2. Remind them they’re a very good boy or girl and tell them they’re adorable (very important).
  3. Carefully comb through the rest of their fur to check for other ticks. Don't forget in-between their toes, paw pads, and inside their ears.
corgi being brushed with its tongue out

5. Safely Dispose Of The Tick

  1. Drop the tick in a container filled with rubbing alcohol to kill it.
  2. Your first option is to seal the container and label it with the date in case your dog starts showing symptoms of illness—both the date and the tick will help your vet with identification and to determine the timeline if resulting illness occurs. The other option is to take a clear picture of the tick and label it with the date, then seal and throw away the container with the tick inside.
  3. Throw away your gloves and wash your hands thoroughly.
  4. Disinfect any tools you used.
tick on a human hand

Monitor Your Dog For Symptoms Of Tick-Borne Illnesses

Keep an eye out for symptoms in the following weeks or months. If you begin to notice any of the following, get them to the vet as soon as possible.

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Swollen joints or lymph nodes
  • Neurological symptoms
  • Rapid breathing
  • Difficulty using one or more legs

It’s fairly well known that ticks can transmit Lyme disease to humans and animals, but did you know it typically takes 36–48 hours of the tick being attached and feeding to transmit the disease? Always remove them as soon as possible!

dog wrapped up in a blanket

How To Remove An Embedded Tick Head

Oh no! You just removed the tick and realized its head or other body parts are still stuck in your dog’s skin, but don’t panic. Use tweezers to remove the remaining parts ONLY if they’re easily accessible, but DO NOT keep picking or digging into your sweet pup’s skin trying to get it out.

Not only is it painful for your dog, it can also lead to infection. If you can’t immediately get a good grasp, it’s best to clean the area with rubbing alcohol or soap and water and just leave it alone. Your dog’s body will do its thing and gradually push the rest of the tick out on its own, or heal over it and push it out over time with new cell growth.

If the area becomes red or inflamed, it’s time to make an appointment with your vet.

yorkshire terrier on a vet table

How To Identify A Tick

Ticks are often black, brown, tan, or grey and, like spiders, have 8 legs. They can range in size from about 1mm to 3mm (or a poppy seed to a sesame seed). When engorged, they can be as big as or larger than a pencil eraser.

Don't mistake a harmless skin tag for a tick—touch it with a gloved finger and see if any legs start wiggling. Ideally, do this outside in case the tick has not yet attached and attempts to skitter away.

Prevention Methods

Monthly flea and tick medication or flea and tick collars are effective methods for prevention, but talk to your veterinarian about the best options for you and your dog. Always check your dog thoroughly after being outdoors.

Ticks love dark, warm places, so take special care when combing around in and around the ears, tail, between the fore and hind legs, toes, and under the collar.

Already spot a tick? In a pinch, try bathing your dog thoroughly with flea and tick shampoo (Note: this is not a preventative, it only aims to kill fleas and ticks on contact). You may also treat your yard with tick spray, and regularly wash pet bedding.

grooming supplies for a dog

Elise Remp

4 weeks ago

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