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How to Remove a Tick From a Dog

How to Safely Remove a Tick From Your Pet

Ticks look like this creature — they're tiny black, brown, or reddish eight-legged insects about the size of a pinhead. However, when they attach themselves to your pet, they can swell up several times their original size. The common tick can transmit fatal illnesses like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme disease, and Summer is the time of year to really check your pet to prevent sickness in your furry friend.

Before heading outdoors, there are a few ways you can try to repel ticks from your pup.

  • Make your own dog-safe tick repellent with ingredients you already have in your pantry and spritz on your pup before heading out for long hikes.
  • On-staff Trupanion veterinarian Dr. Sarah Nold suggests an oral or topical tick repellent from your vet, some of which also act as a flea prevention.
  • Another option is a Preventic collar, according to Dr. Eva Radke, veterinarian at East San Rafael Veterinary Clinic in California.
  • Be aware of the environment outside where you're taking your pet. Make sure to cut your grass and remove brush.

Unfortunately, even preventative measures aren't a sure thing. If you do find a tick on your dog, don't panic! Here's what Dr. Nold and Dr. Radke recommend you do.

  1. It's important to avoid direct contact with the tick and contaminated skin. Diseases can be transmitted from tick to pet to human, so make sure you wear latex gloves.
  2. Place your pet somewhere where you can get a good grip and he stays as comfy as possible. It helps to have another set of hands to hold or distract him.
  3. Try to ID the head or mouth parts of the tick — you'll want to grasp it with tweezers or a Tick Twister as close to your pet's skin as possible. If you grasp it by the body, it can get crushed and force harmful bacteria into your pet's bloodstream.
  4. Pull the tick out using a straight, steady pulling motion. It's important to be slow and gentle so its head will not remain lodged in your pet's skin (which can lead to inflammation and secondary infection).
  5. Place the tick in a cup and poor rubbing alcohol on it to be sure to kill it.
  6. Apply rubbing alcohol to the skin where the tick bit your pet, followed by an antibacterial lotion.
  7. Keep in mind if you find one tick, you should check your pet thoroughly for additional ticks.
  8. Throw away your gloves and sterilize the tweezers, too.
  9. Now give your pet a treat — he's been through a lot!


— Additional reporting by Sarah Lipoff

Image Source: Flickr user John Tann
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BellaVida12 BellaVida12 7 years
I've pulled little insects off my Malti-Poo Bella. She's been running through grass @ the park and around my Parents' there is lots of stray cats. I've used Promeris for Dogs that I bought from the Vet but even a few days after applied I found 2 more little bugs running through her hair and even a couple fleas. I got them off but I am REALLY freaked out.
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 7 years
I keep my dogs on flea/tick meds year round. All the sudden this past February, my Benny started limping so I took him in for x-rays and nothing showed up and they did a Lyme Disease test and it came back negative. Well he continued to get worse and stopped doing steps, would just lay prone in one position all day (not normal for a herding dog) and would act acky all over. Then I noticed that he was alternating which shoulder he was favoring and we never knew which one would hurt him that day. The vet took blood and sent it away for a different type of Lyme Disease Test that can't be done at the vet and is more thorough and it came back positive for a really rare form of the disease. He spent 30 days on antibiotics and he's back to his normal self although the vet warned that they can't ever really cure lyme disease, just keep it in remission and that he may have a bout of days where he's really sore and to bring him in if that happens. Knock on wood - he's been fine since. Anyhow, she told me that during tick season, to put the tick meds on my dogs every two weeks since they have double coats and we live in an area that is known for lyme disease. If you ever think your dog has it and the vet test comes back negative and the dog continues to show symptoms of it, ask for them to send away a blood culture. Found out the test at the vets can only detect the most common strains and I'm so glad my vet insisted I do this other test. It's only $200 and it's totally worth it.
jennjennnbubba jennjennnbubba 8 years
I have heard of the tick spoon before.
kia kia 8 years
I have a tick spoon called, Ticked Off, for tick removal. It is a notched spoon so that you pull out the hypostome (mouth part) clean. If you squeeze the tick then it is possible to squeeze the bacteria into the host body during the removal via the hypostome.
dreamlover823 dreamlover823 8 years
Ugh both my dogs have had these suckers. I HATE them!
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 8 years
That's a really good idea hanako...if Bailey HAD contracted Lyme Disease, it would benefit your community to report it for statistical purposes :)
hanako66 hanako66 8 years
poor little Bailey had a tick last year and I saved it in a ziplock baggie in the freezer just in case she was sick so she could be tested!
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