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How to Remove a Tick From a Dog

Tick-borne diseases impact thousands of dogs across the North America every year and produce some very serious and painful symptoms, so knowing how to remove a tick from your pet quickly and properly is essential. Our Ambler vets suggest following the steps below or contacting your vet to learn more.

Ticks On Dogs & Pet Health

Illnesses spread by ticks can result in your dog's organs and tissues becoming infected and inflamed, producing a wide range of symptoms. In some cases, symptoms of tick-borne diseases may not appear until several weeks after your pet has become infected with the disease. For these reasons it's important to check for ticks regularly and remove them as quickly as possible.

Tick Removal Steps

Below are the steps you should follow in order to remove a tick from your dog. Please note that wearing gloves helps to protect you from tick-borne diseases, so it is an important part of the process. If you don't feel confident removing a tick from your dog, contact your vet. Many vet clinics are happy to have you come in and learn how to remove ticks, or handle the job for you quickly, without and fuss.

1. Check your dog for ticks after every walk.

Ticks typically live in long grass, brush, or wooded areas. They wait patiently for an animal to brush past then grab hold and latch themselves on. This is why it is essential to check your pet any time your dog has been near areas where ticks could be lurking.

Checking your dog for ticks is easy:

  • Simply your fingers through your pet's fur and feel for any lumps, bumps or swollen patches on their skin.
  • Be sure not to miss your pup's legs, ears, face, neck, and between their toes when checking for ticks.

2. Identify whether a suspicious lump is a tick.

If you feel something suspicious it's time to investigate.

  • Part your dog's fur to get a clear look. An engorged tick is relatively easy to find and identify. Most ticks are brown, black or tan in color and all have eight legs. Before feeding a tick may only be the size of a poppy seed but once engorged a single tick could be a third of an inch (10mm) in size.

3. Tools for removing ticks effectively.

To remove a tick from your dog (or cat) quickly and safely you will need a few basic tools:

  • Gloves to protect yourself from tick saliva that can transmit diseases to humans.
  • Clean tweezers or a tick removal tool to grasp the tick and remove
  • Disinfectant or antiseptic cream to clean the site once the tick has been removed
  • Isopropyl alcohol 

4. How to remove a tick using tweezers.

  • Without accidently pinching your dog's fur, use the tweezers to grasp the tick as close to your dog's skin as possible.
  • Pull the tick out slowly and steadily. Try not to jerk or jump, the goal is to remove the entire tick including the mouthparts, in order to avoid infection. 

5. How to use a tick removal tool.

Tick removal tools look like the nail removal part of a hammer. They have a flat head (or gently curved head) with a notch cut out in the middle. These handy, easy-to-use tools are available at most well-stocked pet supply stores, or your vet may be able to provide you with one.

  • Press the flat head of the tick removal tool against your dog's skin, near the tick.
  • Slide the head of the tool forward (while still pressed against the skin) so that the tick's body is on the top of the notch, then gently lift the tick out with an upward motion (for flat tools) or with a gentle roll backward (for a curved tool). 

6. Dispose of the tick

Not all ticks carry diseases, but many do. Contact your vet to see if they want you to bring it in for an ID check and/or to test the tick to see if it's carrying any diseases that may have been passed to your pet.

  • How to transport a tick to your vet's office:
    • If so you can place the tick in a baggie or pill bottle to take to your vet. Your vet's office will provide you with instructions on how to preserve the tick.
    • Lable the bottle with the date, and where on your dog you found the tick (so you can check the site later for signs of infection)
  • If you are not taking the tick in to be tested here's what you should do:
    • Ensure that the tick is dead before disposing of it. This can be done by dropping the tick into the isopropyl alcohol. Once dead you can simply dispose of the tick in the garbage.
    • Do not throw live ticks in the garbage, outside, or down the toilet.
    • Do not use your fingers to crush the tick as this could result in the spread of disease.

7. Clean-up

  • Clean the site where the tick was latched on to your dog, using alcohol, an antiseptic swap, or soap and water.
  • Dispose of gloves and wash your hands well with soap and water.

8. After Care

For the following 2 weeks monitor the site on your pet where you found the tick. Look for any redness or swelling, particularly look for a red ring around the spot that looks somewhat like a target. This target appearance can be an indication of Lyme disease. 

Be sure to report any signs of redness or infection to your vet right away. Early treatment of disease is typically most effective.

9. Tick Prevention

Preventing conditions spread by parasites can help to ensure your dog's long-term good health. There are many effective parasite prevention products available to help protect your pup from ticks. Speak to your vet to find out which preventive medication is best for your canine companion.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you have spotted a tick on your dog, contact Spring House Animal Hospital to book an appointment to have the tick removed, or to learn how to remove ticks from your dog.

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