The First Thing You Should Do If Your Dog Is Bitten By A Tick, According To A Vet

Here's a step-by-step guide for how you should take action.

When you’re an outdoorsy family, the threat of tick-borne diseases and illnesses is always at the back of your mind. It’s a good idea to check your dogs and yourself for ticks after spending time outside, but sometimes you can miss a tick and it ends up biting your pup.

So, what do you do if and when a tick bite happens?

Remove it

The first thing you need to do is dislodge the tick from your dog. The sooner you detach it, the less time you’re giving the tick to spread a potential tick-borne disease.

“To remove ticks from your dog, use tweezers to carefully and firmly grip the tick as close to the pet’s skin as possible, and gently and steadily pull the tick free without twisting or crushing it during removal,” Dr. José Arce, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, told The Dodo.

Removing tick from dog's ear

“Crushing, twisting or jerking the tick out of the skin while its head is still buried could result in leaving the tick’s mouth parts in your pet’s skin,” Dr. Arce said. “This can cause a reaction, and [it] may become infected.”

If the tick doesn’t come out as a whole, wash the bite with soap and water and take your dog to the vet to have a professional remove the head. Trying to do so at home may cause further irritation and, potentially, infection.

If you don’t have tweezers handy, you can also loop a bit of dental floss around the contact point between your dog’s skin and the tick, pull the loop tight, and then pull upward to remove the tick.


Once the tick is removed, Dr. Arce recommends dousing it with alcohol and putting it in a sealed plastic bag. Try your best to avoid touching the tick so as not to come into contact with any fluids.


“Wash the area where the tick was removed with soap and water,” Dr. Arce said.


If you have any concerns about the tick bite, contact your vet. They can test the tick that came off your dog for tick-borne diseases and give your dog a checkup to make sure he's healthy and happy.

They may also give you further advice on symptoms to look for (including lethargy, joint discomfort, lymph node swelling and fever) which may indicate Lyme disease or other tick-caused illness.

Shutterstock/Zivica Kerkez

Prevent and check

Keeping your lawn mowed short can also help reduce the tick population around your home.

By taking the proper precautions, your dog should remain tick-free no matter how long he spends playing outside in the yard.