How Do I Get A Tick Off My Dog?

Get the tick out of here 🪲

dog itching with a magnified tick

Finding a tick on your dog can be scary, especially since ticks can spread disease. But if you know how to remove it safely and do it quickly, you can keep your dog healthy.

We spoke to Dr. Jose Arce, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, and Dr. John Sangiorgio, a veterinarian from CompleteCare Veterinary Center in New York City, to find out how to get a tick off your dog and what the best tick preventatives are.

Why are ticks dangerous to dogs?

Ticks are parasites that attach to your dog’s skin and suck his blood. When an infected tick bites a dog, it can transmit diseases to him.

“Ticks can spread serious infectious diseases to people and animals, such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis, so it’s important to keep [our dogs] tick-free,” Dr. Arce told The Dodo.

Diseases from ticks can spread in just a few hours, so the faster you get the tick off your pup, the better.

“It is better to remove a tick when it is still alive, thereby reducing the likelihood of tick-borne diseases,” Dr. Sangiorgio told The Dodo.

What you need to remove a tick from a dog

Here are the supplies you need to remove a tick from your pup:

  • Point-tip tweezers or tick removal tool
  • Natural liquid soap (optional)
  • Cotton ball (optional)
  • Dental floss (optional)
  • Latex or rubber gloves
  • Magnifying glass
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Container with a lid
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Treats

Best way to remove a tick from a dog

There are several ways to get a tick off your dog. However you choose to do it, follow the below steps to do it safely.

Before starting, put on your gloves so the tick doesn’t attach to you and potentially transmit any tick-borne diseases.

Search all over your dog for ticks in case there are any others hiding that you haven’t found yet. You should check everywhere, including places you might not think of, like your pup’s ears and paws.

Sterilize your tweezers or tick removal tool with alcohol, and make sure your dog is in a comfortable position before you begin.

Using Vaseline can sometimes make a tick start to release its grip on a dog or back out, making it easier to remove. So if you have Vaseline on hand and want to try using it, spread it over the tick first, then follow these steps.

How to remove a tick from a dog with tweezers

When using tweezers to remove a tick from your dog, you should use point-tip tweezers since they have a smaller tip that’ll make it easier to grab the tick without crushing it.

“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 may become infected.”

Here are the steps to take to get a tick off your pup using tweezers:

  • Spread your dog’s fur around the tick so you can see it.
  • “Use tweezers and get as close to the skin as possible,” Dr. Sangiorgio said. Don’t grab the body of the tick. That can make it break, leaving the tick head embedded in your dog’s skin.
  • Once you have the tick in the tweezers, slowly pull straight upwards. “Gently and steadily pull the tick free without twisting or crushing it during removal,” Dr. Arce said. This will prevent the tick head from getting stuck.

How to remove a tick from a dog with a tick removal tool

Follow these steps to get a tick off your dog with a tick removal tool:

  • Spread your dog’s fur around the tick so you can see it.
  • Place the tick in between the prongs of the tool.
  • “Carefully and firmly grip the tick as close to the pet’s skin as possible,” Dr. Arce said. Don’t grab the body of the tick. That can make it break, leaving the tick head embedded in your dog’s skin.
  • Gently rotate the tool until the tick detaches from your dog’s skin.
  • Once the tick detaches, lift the tool up and away from your dog.

How to remove a tick from a dog without tweezers

If you don’t have tweezers or a tick removal tool, there are some home remedies you can try to remove a tick from your dog.

  • Dental floss — You can wrap dental floss around the head of the tick as close to the skin as possible. Tighten the loop and slowly pull upwards to remove the tick.
  • Natural liquid soap — Add natural soap (which is less irritating than regular soap) to a cotton ball and place it on top of the tick. The tick will hopefully detach itself from your dog and get stuck in the cotton ball.

Definitely don’t use your fingers to remove a tick if you don’t have tweezers. Your hands won’t be small enough to grab the tick without crushing it, and you’ll likely end up leaving behind the head or pushing toxins further into your dog. (Plus, the tick could attach to you.)

How to remove a tick head from a dog

If you get the body of the tick out but not the head, you should disinfect the area so your pup doesn’t get an infection.

“If you leave the head in, eventually the animal will react to it, causing a pustule, and the healing process will be longer,” Dr. Sangiorgio said.

After you clean the area, you should take your dog to the vet to have them remove the tick head. Don’t try to dig around for it because you can cause an infection.

What to do after the tick removal

After you’ve removed the tick, don’t flush it down the toilet or throw it in the garbage because it may not die, and it can still lay eggs or even crawl out.

“Dispose of it by putting it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag or wrapping it tightly in tape, taking care to avoid contact with tick fluids that could carry disease,” Dr. Arce said.

Take the sealed container with you to the vet. This will help your vet diagnose your dog if he develops any tick-borne diseases because different types of ticks can carry different illnesses.

Once you’ve removed the tick from your pup, Dr. Sangiorgio recommends going to see your vet for an antibiotic shot to prevent tick-borne illnesses.

Dr. Sangiorgio also recommends trying to figure out where your dog got the tick to help prevent him from getting more of them in the future. If your dog spends a lot of time outside or in the woods, he probably picked up a tick there. But according to Dr. Sangiorgio, if your pup’s more of an indoor dog, he could have gotten the tick from a rodent.

“Ticks are more of a problem because they have an intermediate host,” Dr. Sangiorgio said. “That means that if you have ticks around, you [might] also have rodents around you.” If that’s the case, then you might need to watch out for other animals around your house or yard who could have transferred the tick to your dog.

To prevent your pup from getting more ticks, Dr. Sangiorgio recommends Bravecto products and even uses them for his own dog.

Try these Bravecto prescription flea and tick preventative chews from Petco for $63.99

If you follow these tips, you’ll be a pro at removing ticks from your dog in no time (but hopefully with the right preventative, you won’t even have to).

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