How To Remove A Tick From A Dog

Kate Barrington
by Kate Barrington
They’re more than an irritant – these little bloodsuckers can mean big trouble for you and your pooch. Here’s how to remove a tick from a dog.

Ticks are tiny external parasites that feed on the blood of dogs and other animals – they can even latch on to a human. There are several different species of ticks which can affect dogs and all of them have the potential to transmit deadly diseases to your pet. You should take the time to learn how to protect your dog from ticks, as well as educate yourself on how to remove a tick from a dog.

Related: Flea And Tick Control: Fact Or Myth?

How do Ticks Affect Dogs?

Technically ticks are not a type of insect – they are a type of arachnid and there are a number of species which commonly affect dogs. The most common species of ticks known to affect dogs are the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis) and the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus). Ticks tend to live in brushy areas of undergrowth, particularly tall grass, and they can easily climb onto your dog’s legs as he plays outside. These tiny creatures can be found anywhere on the dog’s body but they tend to prefer the area around the head, neck, and ears.

Related: Top 10 Flea and Tick Prevention Tips

Though they may be small, ticks are visible so it is a good idea for you to check your dog after spending any time outside, particularly during the summer and fall months. Even once your dog has been bitten by a tick it can take a few hours for the tick to transmit disease, so if you find and remove the tick quickly your dog will probably be okay. To ensure that your dog is protected from tick-transmitted diseases, however, you should administer a monthly topical flea and tick preventive. These products not only help to protect your dog from diseases transmitted by ticks but they kill the adult and developing forms of the parasite.

Steps on How to Remove a Tick from a Dog

In addition to transmitting diseases like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ticks can also cause blood loss and anemia, especially in young dogs. If you find a tick on your dog’s body, you need to remove it immediately by following the steps below:

  1. Put on a pair of rubber or latex gloves to protect yourself – contact with the tick’s blood could potentially expose you to Lyme disease.
  2. Treat the area with rubbing alcohol to disinfect it.
  3. Use a pair of tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible.
  4. Pull the tick swiftly upward and away from the body, removing the head and mouthparts as well as the body.
  5. If the mouthparts are left behind, do not try to remove them – this could cause more irritation – just treat the area with a disinfectant.
  6. Disinfect the site of the bite again and dispose of the tick by placing it in a small jar with some rubbing alcohol to kill it.

After removing a tick from your dog’s skin – especially if the mouthparts are left behind – you should monitor your dog for several days. Check the site of the bite several times a day for inflammation and irritation. If the area swells and doesn’t appear to be improving, you may want to take your dog to the vet for a check-up.

A Few Extra Tips to Keep in Mind When Checking for Ticks and Removing Them

Here are a few other things to consider in order to keep your pet safe, and to effectively and safely remove a tick if you have found that one has bitten your dog:

  • Check your pet for ticks anytime he spends time outside. If you do find a tick, it should be removed within 24 to 36 hours, but preferably sooner than that.
  • Does your dog have a double-coat or long fur? Consider using a hair dryer on a cool setting to move the fur and look for signs of ticks.
  • Your dog might end up showing signs that something is wrong. For example, he might bite at a particular spot on his body, or he might be scratching at himself. Check the area, as there might be a tick there.
  • When removing a tick with tweezers, don’t jerk or twist the parasite; use steady pressure to pull it out.
  • As an alternative to using tweezers, there are tick removal products that you can try instead. An example is the Tick Key, which you can keep with your keys whenever you head out.
  • You shouldn’t remove a tick only with your fingers, unless you absolutely have no choice. In that case, use a paper towel or a tissue to protect yourself, and disinfect your hands right after. Again, you want to avoid getting tick blood or saliva on your skin.
  • Avoid crushing or squishing ticks when you’re trying to remove them. Doing so might actually cause infected fluid to move through the parasite’s mouth and into your dog’s body.
  • It isn’t a good idea to try products like petroleum jelly or nail polish in order to attempt suffocating a tick after it’s bitten your dog. Like squishing it, this could boost the risk of infection because it could make the tick vomit. It also isn’t a good idea to use a hot match or cigarette for the same reason.
  • You could save the tick and take it to your vet’s office to have it tested. This can help you figure out what type of tick bit your dog, as well as whether or not it was carrying a disease.
  • When disposing of the tick, don’t just put it down the sink or in your trash, as it could simply crawl out. You want to be sure that it’s dead so that it can’t cause anymore harm. That’s why we recommend killing it with rubbing alcohol, as mentioned above.
  • Although there are a lot of natural products out there that claim they can repel or even kill ticks, it’s wise to talk to your vet about the best and most proven products that you can use safely on your pooch to keep these dangerous parasites away. It isn’t worth risking a bite by using a natural remedy when there are effective products that are safe to use on canines.

Feel free to contribute your own ways of how to remove a tick from a dog in the comment section below – we’d love to hear your ideas!

Kate Barrington
Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor's degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.

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