How to remove a tick from a dog

Safely remove a tick from a dog, not performing this procedure the correct way can harm your pet.


Dogs love the great outdoors, but sometimes playing outside can put them at serious risk.

It's an unpleasant fact that dogs sometimes get ticks, which can be a serious health threat to you and your pet. Even if you keep your pet clean and use flea and tick topicals like powders or sprays, animals can still get an occasional tick. Check your pet often for fleas or ticks, especially around the ears, belly, legs, and face. Even though the medication you are currently using might have a recommended application of every three months, as the strength of the treatment weakens, fleas, and ticks could become more prevalent. When checking your dog for ticks, pet the animal, rubbing him all over his coat and up and down his legs. Search for the tell-tale tiny lump which indicates a possible tick.

The moment you notice that your dog has acquired one of these parasites, take precautions to safely remove the tick from the area. Ticks might appear small - having just arrived, or engorged - having been there a while and gone unnoticed. To perform the removal procedure, you'll need good light and gloves to protect yourself from a possible tick bite. If the tick is engorged, it might prove harder to safely remove it.

Make your dog as comfortable as possible and spend a few minutes getting your pet to relax. Dogs have a natural sense of panic or concern and you don't want to alarm the animal. If the tick is barely attached, you can kill it by applying a pyrethrum spray directly to it. If the tick doesn't fall off within a day, you'll need to remove it with tweezers. When a tick is firmly attached, use finely pointed tweezers, grab the tick by the head at the area of attachment, and slowly pull the tweezers straight out.

Do not twist the tick or the tweezers while removing. And, giving the tweezers a quick jerk or grabbing the tick by the legs or body might leave the head attached, making it even more difficult to remove. If by chance the head of the tick remains connected, you can attempt again to remove it or let the body reject it naturally, as it will within a day or two. Take extra precautions to keep from squeezing the tick while removing it from the affected area. Squeezing the tick can cause poisons to be injected under the dog's skin.

If no tweezers are available, you can use implements found around the home. For instance, try sliding a Popsicle stick under the tick, place another one on top, and, holding the sticks gently together, pull the tick out. If there is no other way, use your fingers to grab the tick, but never without surgical gloves for your own protection.

If your dog will not let you remove the tick without snapping or jerking away, it might be necessary to wait until your dog is asleep or have a veterinarian remove the tick to protect your dog from being further injured. Likewise, if the tick is in a delicate area like on the eyelid, other steps may have to be implemented to safely remove the parasite. In addition, there are some areas that should be examined and checked by the veterinarian after a bite occurs, such as a scrotum or deep inside the ear.

After removal of the tick, wash and dry the area thoroughly and then rub with alcohol or antibiotic ointment. For future reference, if the dog takes ill, keep the tick in a jar of alcohol, marking the date and the former location of the tick on the dog. This might assist your veterinarian in analyzing the pet's illness.

Keeping your pet treated with flea and tick preparations will help cut down on the risk of tick bites and the harmful, sometimes deadly effects of Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Bathe the pet often with formulas for the prevention of ticks. Keep pet beds laundered and sprayed with flea and tick sprays or powders and be sure to always check your pet after it has been in the woods, tall grasses or outside for an extended period of time.