How to Remove a Tick From a Dog

Just the thought of ticks makes my skin crawl. Unfortunately, though, they’re a natural part of outdoor life … and I like to be outside! I love taking my dogs hiking in the mountains or sunbathing by the water. Before we get in the car to head home, I always check them for ticks. I run my hands through their hair, feeling for any lumps or bumps. I carefully check their ears, face, neck, chin, belly, feet, and toes. A tick could be anywhere … so it’s important to do a thorough check! After I’m done inspecting my pups, I give myself a quick once over. Luckily, I’ve never found a tick on my dogs. I can’t say the same for myself. 

What To Do If You Find a Tick 

The most important thing is to get it off immediately. I recommend keeping a first aid kit in your car (one that contains a good pair of pointy tweezers or tick removal tools). The longer a tick remains attached to you or your pet, the greater the chance of disease transmission. The good news is that most tick-borne diseases take at least 24 hours before disease transmission occurs.    

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Photo Credit: CDC by Manitoba Health

How to Remove a Tick From a Dog 

If possible try to get someone to help you so someone can keep your pup calm.
What You Need:
  • Pointy Tweezer or Tick Removal Tool 
  • Latex Gloves  
  • A small jar with a screw on lid (filled 1/2 way with Isopropyl alcohol)
  • Isopropyl alcohol  

What You Should Do

  1. Put your gloves on to keep a barrier between you and the tick.
  2. Using a pointy tweezer or a tick removal tool, grab the tick as close to the point of attachment as possible. Be very careful not to pinch your dog. (FYI: The only part of the tick that will be attached to the dog is the ticks head)
  3. Using a steady pressure, pull the tick straight out — no twisting or turning. Keep steady pressure until the tick releases his grip and comes out.
  4. Make sure you have the entire tick. Any mouth parts left in your pet’s body can cause an infection.  
  5. Place the tick in the jar filled with isopropyl alcohol and cap it. Save it in case the vet wants to see it/test it. 
  6. Cleanse the affected area and wash your hands (even though you were wearing gloves).
  7. Monitor the site for the next week or two for any changes or signs of infection. If you notice any signs or have any concerns, contact your vet ASAP. Bring the tick that you saved in the jar of alcohol to the vet with you for evaluation.
What Not To Do:
  • Never use heat or a flame in an attempt to detach the tick from your pooch.
  • Never twist or turn the tweezer when pulling the tick out.
  • Never use petroleum jelly, nail polish remover, or other chemicals to try and smother the tick. The tick could regurgitate, releasing toxins into the host’s bloodstream.  

So What The Heck is a Tick & How Do They Get On Me?

Ticks belong to a species called arachnoids.  They are not insects. Rather, they are related to spiders, scorpions, and mites.  

Ticks don’t jump or fly and aren’t usually found in trees. Instead, they hide in low places like brush, bushes, or in the grass.  Normally ticks sit and wait for an unsuspecting host to walk by as they hold onto the brush with their back legs and reach out with their front legs to grab on for the ride. They start low and walk up the body to get where they want to be. Ewwww … disgusting, right!    

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Photo Credit: CDC

While many people think ticks die in winter, that isn’t the case. In most places they are a threat 12 months out of the year. Even in colder climates, the temperature has to be below 10ºF for an extended period of time before ticks begin to die.

Why Are Ticks Dangerous?

Do you know anyone who suffers from Lyme disease? If so, they were probably infected by a deer tick (AKA black-legged tick). While not all ticks transmit Lyme, many carry crippling diseases. Tick-borne illnesses are more common today due to the growing numbers of deer.
There are more than 800 varieties of ticks (some are more common than others). Other ticks we often see are Lone Star ticks and Brown Dog ticks. They do not transmit Lyme Disease, but can transmit other diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and other spotted fevers.

Talk To Your Vet 

With tick-borne illness, prevention is key. Talk to your vet about topical tick prevention. Also, always inspect your pets if they’ve been outside. Remember — ticks can be anywhere. We tend to be more alert during a hike or trip to the park, but they can be right in your own backyard. Taking a few minutes to check yourself and your pup is always a safe way to go!

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