How to Remove a Tick from a Dog

There are very few things with a greater “Yuk factor” than an attached and feeding tick on your dog (or even yourself). While so called “seed ticks” are quite small, they are quick to grow after they attach and begin to feed on the blood of their new host. In a relatively short period of time they can engorge to the point where they reach the size of a raisin or small grape.

Once attached, ticks almost immediately begin to drink blood and at the same time digestive fluids and anticoagulants from the tick begin to enter the host. These fluids carry a number of infectious diseases from the mouth parts into the host.

As I have discussed in the past, ticks are a potential source of infection for a number of diseases. There is a good deal of controversy about how long it takes for these organisms to cross into the new host, but the Companion Animal Parasite Council says it can happen in a very short time.

What NOT to do to remove a tick

You might already have heard about some tick removal methods that are not safe, and I’d like to dispel some dangerous methods. Years ago, some people would apply a lit cigarette or a quickly extinguished, but still hot, match head. Some used a pin that had been heated in flame. Please don’t. Nothing as dramatic or potentially painful as these methods is necessary. The CDC warns against “folklore remedies” for people, and those same warnings are true for dogs.

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How to remove an attached tick safely

Attached and feeding ticks are not mobile and can be grasped rather easily using small thumb forceps. Grasp the tick as close to the host’s skin as possible and gently pull the tick away from the skin. It was once believed that the removal was easier if the direction of traction was counter clockwise (or is it clockwise), but ticks do not have threaded mouth parts and you should actually pull straight out.

If thumb forceps are not available, you can use a variety of tick extractors that slip around the mouth parts and allow removal with no contact. Remember, the longer a tick is attached, the greater the chances of disease transmission. That means if ticks do become attached they should be removed as quickly as possible.

DON’Ts

  • DON’T … remove ticks with your fingers (though I must admit I do sometimes). If you do this too, use a tissue or paper towel. Disinfect your hands afterward with soap and water. You don’t really want tick saliva or blood on your fingers. And don’t forget to clean the bite area on your dog.
  • DON’T … squish or crush a tick. This can force infected body fluids through the tick’s mouth. It increases the risk of infection for you and your dog.
  • DON’T … worry if the mouthpart of the tick stays in your dog’s skin. It can happen sometimes when they’re really well embedded. It’s a bit like having a splinter and it will fall out in a few days.
  • DON’T … put things like nail polish, vaseline or repellents on the tick to try to suffocate or kill it. This can cause the tick to vomit into your dog, increasing the possibility of infection.
  • DON’T  … burn the tick with a lighted cigarette or hot match. These can also cause vomiting.
  • DON’T … throw the tick in your trashcan or sink. They can easily crawl back out.
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While extracting an attached tick is technically quite simple (as outlined above), the removal of the tick should be performed with care. When removing a tick:

  • Don’t squeeze—Avoid any further transmission caused by squeezing and expressing the body of the tick
  • Get it all—Grab the tick as close to the mouth as possible to avoid leaving the tick’s head or mouth in the skin (this may lead to an infection)

What should you do after the tick is removed?

After the tick has been removed, drop the tick into a bottle containing rubbing alcohol or flea and tick spray. Alternatively the tick can be squashed, but it is very important to avoid contact with the tick’s body fluids and this eliminates the ability to identify the tick later.

Wash your hands thoroughly to avoid infection and record the date the tick was removed

Next, use a mild disinfectant at the attachment site, and a topical antibiotic ointment to prevent infection (particularly if you were unable to remove the mouth parts of the tick). If the area becomes inflamed or develops a rash, be sure to call your veterinarian.

Watch your dog closely for:

Should any of these signs develop, see your veterinarian. Follow these links to learn more about the symptoms of:

To prevent future ticks from attaching, talk to your veterinarian about tick prevention products.

Stopping ticks before they attach

The surest way to avoid infections is to avoid the attachment and feeding of the tick. The best way to control tick infestations is to use products that repel and kill ticks, ideally before they have a chance to attach and feed. However, tick repellents vary in their efficacy and speed of activity. Even the best available products may still allow ticks to attach to your dog. The Humane Society of the United States says, “A good tick prevention strategy includes checking all family members, especially after outdoor activities in wooded, leafy or grassy areas.”

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Whenever your dog has had potential exposure to ticks it is important to thoroughly check your pet for ticks that may or may not have already attached.

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian — they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

www.pethealthnetwork.com
dogsnaturallymagazine.com

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8 Comments
  • Avivamae says:

    I’d suggest for all dog owner to have a tick removal tool. I live in an area that I don’t expect ticks and I’ve still found a few on my dog over the years. Also Ned is a gorgeous dog!

  • Jonathan Meyer says:

    22nd! And I had one on my dog all the way in 2015 very late 2015 and I got her on 04/01/2015, and I found a knot in my dog’s fur on the forehead, my brother pulled it out eventually a few days later and it was a gray tick and he burnt it in the fireplace, she still has the missing fur spot on her forehead to this day, but other than that she’s okay, it’s the black dog in my pfp, the white dog hasn’t got a tick in her yet, and I got her in September of 2018, and yes, be careful, if you see a knot in your dog’s forehead a fur knot, don’t touch it like I did! I regret it, it didn’t latch on to me, but I regret touching the knot! And btw both of my dogs are miniature Pekingese!

  • Gampas says:

    My dog gets 50+ ticks everyday and I just pull it out of my hands. He is really restless. Also I live in india in a place with alot of population and alot of dogs, my society has more then 40dogs. So we even find some ticks on our morning walks daily( they walk beside use but we overtake em’)😁

  • markspark1001 says:

    They said not to pull straight on the tick as if you got it wrong you might leave the head in. They recommended getting the tick nice and far into the «V» shaped slot and then rotating the «tweezers» round and round in a clockwise direction until the tick came free. Being our vet, we followed this advice and it worked fine. The tick came out alive with head still on. It took about 15 seconds so a little bit quicker than the method in the video and without any danger of the tick popping.

  • Angie Pearson says:

    Do not bother with tweezers or any special tool Take a cup put some water in it with some dishwashing liquid. Rub it on the tick and it will come over in a few seconds. I did not think it was possible. But it worked. Wow! Easy!

  • maja hellborg says:

    I’m trying to get one off my dog but I can’t. It’s stuck on the outside of her ear where she has long fur. When I grab the tick it’s really hurting my dog. She’s normally very quiet and calm but she started whimpering and turning over on her back (something she does when scared/in pain). I know I need to remove it but I don’t know how. I’ve never done it before and the only equipment I’ve got is normal tweezers. Would it help to give her a bath first and remove it while she’s wet? It’d be easier to avoid pulling on her hairs since they’re more straight when she’s wet

  • Ghost The Writer Aka James Dawson says:

    My dog got a tick an he was a brindle so I would check him out an rub him down every time he went outside but somehow a tick got by me an I didn’t find it he got lymes disease an we got medicine for him an the med gave him 2 more beautiful years sadly the lymes disease gave him very bad joint problems an he was having a hard time so the vet thought it would be a good idea to put him down he died Feb 13th 2018 at 10:50am R.I.P meathead

  • Geraldine Broadley says:

    It’s so much easier to twist slowly two times anti-clockwise, slip a thin piece of plastic with a small V shape cut out of it, slip it under and turn slowly, it will simply come away with no pulling. Works every time no pulling or tugging as the tick will place more bacteria and toxins into the body. This works best out it comes full head and all!

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