How To Remove A Tick From A Dog Safely

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Safely removing ticks from dogs is important because ticks often carry serious diseases, and some of these diseases, like Lyme disease, can infect people as well as pets. In addition to being a potential source of disease, tick bites on dogs are uncomfortable and can become infected. If you find a tick on your dog, use the guide below to remove it.

How to Get a Tick Off a Dog

When you discover a tick on your dog, it is important to remove it promptly because the longer it remains attached, the more opportunity it will have to transmit any diseases it is carrying to your pet. It is important, however, that you do not panic and pick at the tick or squeeze it. If you pull off only part of the tick, the piece you leave inside the skin could cause an infection. Squeezing the tick could cause the parasite to regurgitate its gut contents, which might include bacteria and other microorganisms, into your pet’s skin. Rather than trying to pull the parasite off in a blind panic, take a few minutes to gather the materials you will need to remove the tick safely.

Materials

Recommended materials for removing a tick include the following:

  • Fine-tipped tweezers or a commercial tick remover.
  • Rubbing alcohol.
  • Small ziplock bag or plastic container with a tight lid.
  • Soap or dilute antiseptic, like Betadine or chlorhexidine, and warm water.
  • Clean cloths or paper towels.
  • Dog treats to reward your patient.
  • Latex or nitrile gloves to protect your hands.

Procedure

Once you have gathered the materials you need, use the following procedure to safely remove the tick from your dog:

  1. Put on the gloves to protect yourself.
  2. Clean the tweezers or tick remover with rubbing alcohol.
  3. Use the tweezers to grasp the tick as close to your dog’s skin as you can manage without pinching the dog, or place the tick remover over the tick.
  4. Use a steady motion to pull the tick up and off with the tweezers, or slide the tick remover’s notch under the parasite until the tick pops off into the bowl of the remover.
  5. Place the tick in the plastic bag or container, and label it with the date. Saving the tick will allow you to have it tested at a later time if necessary.
  6. Examine the wound to make sure no part of the tick remains in the skin.
  7. Rinse the wound with warm water.
  8. Use soap and water or dilute antiseptic to clean the wound.
  9. Give your dog a treat for being cooperative.

If you feel you cannot remove the tick safely, pieces of the tick remain in the wound, your dog seems ill or your pet becomes aggressive, take the dog to a veterinarian.

What to Do After You Remove the Tick

Flickr / Thomas Oehlboeck

Flickr / Thomas Oehlboeck

Once you remove the tick, you should watch the area for signs of infection and your dog for symptoms of tick-borne diseases.

Signs of Infection

Signs of potential wound infection include the following:

  • Redness.
  • Swelling.
  • Heat in the area of the bite wound.
  • Dog whimpering or crying out if the area is touched.
  • Dog licking or biting at the wound.
  • Pus or other discharge from the wound.

Signs of infection usually begin to appear within days of tick removal. If you are concerned that the bite wound is becoming infected, take your dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Potential Signs of Tick-Borne Diseases

Ticks can spread a variety of diseases to dogs. Tick-borne diseases reported in dogs in the United States include the following:

  • Lyme disease.
  • Babesiosis.
  • Ehrlichiosis.
  • Anaplasmosis.
  • Bartonellosis.
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

Symptoms of these tick-borne diseases often do not appear until weeks or months after the initial tick bite, so if your dog becomes ill at any point, it is important to let your veterinarian know that the pet was bitten by a tick. Signs of tick-borne illnesses vary widely, but infected dogs typically display one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Fever.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Swollen lymph nodes.
  • Shifting lameness.
  • Lack of energy.
  • Swollen joints.
  • Rash.
  • Seizures.
  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Bruising.
  • Yellowing of the gums, whites of the eyes and skin.
  • Bleeding easily.
  • Eye problems.

Additional Resources