No matter how careful you might be, chances are that your dog will pick up a tick if they spend any time outside. Ticks are known for carrying diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease, which makes removing a tick from your dog as soon as you see it important. Once you find a tick attached to your dog's skin, what's the best way to remove it? Here's what you need to know:
What You Need to Remove a Tick From Your Dog
- Latex or rubber gloves (if you have a break in your skin, the disease that the tick is carrying potentially could be transmitted to you)
- Tweezers with a pointed end
- Antiseptic or soap
- Small jar
How to Remove a Tick from Your Dog
Follow this step-by-step guide to get rid of ticks on your dog:
1. Put on your gloves and use water or alcohol to flatten your dog's hair around the tick. Ticks bury their head into the dog's skin so all that is sticking out is their backend, which means you need to be careful when removing a tick so that you don't leave the head embedded. Additionally, do not attempt to squeeze the tick, as this could push bacteria-rich tick saliva into the bite wound.
2. Using your tweezers, grab the tick as close to your dog's skin as possible.
3. Pull the tick out in one straight motion. Don't squeeze too hard, pull too fast, or twist the tweezers.
4. After you get the tick out, take a picture of it with your phone and then place it in a jar with alcohol. Why should you get a photo first, though? So you can show your vet and they can identify the type of tick in the event that your dog starts to show any symptoms. Alternatively, you can tape the tick to a notecard or piece of paper for disposal, or to take to the veterinarian for identification. Taping the tick down in this fashion is effective because it dries the tick out, ultimately killing it.
5. Clean your dog's wound with antiseptic or soap and water.
After you have removed the tick, there's a good chance that there will be another one on your dog's body, so be sure to check their coat thoroughly. Also check the feet, foot pads, and ears, as ticks often frequent these areas. Monitor your dog for any changes in behavior over the next few weeks or months, and visit your vet if any unusual symptoms arise, such as lethargy, lameness, or rapid breathing.
What to Do if the Tick's Head is Embedded in Your Dog's Skin
Sometimes, a tick might break in half during removal, leaving its mouth parts still in the skin of your dog. This is not uncommon. If there is enough of the mouthparts that are still seen and can be grasped by the tweezers, go ahead and try to pull the remaining part out. If this is not the case, or if a good grasp cannot be had, it is best to leave the area alone and let the body work the mouthparts out on its own, just as a splinter does in human skin.
Simply wash the area with warm soapy water and keep an eye on it to make sure it is healing and not becoming red or inflamed. Continual prodding of the area with tweezers, may not only be painful for the dog, it could push the mouth parts further into the skin, causing irritation and potential infection.
No one wants to have to go through the process of removing a tick from their pet. Protecting your dog with a tick preventive may help avoid this unpleasant process — both for you and your pet.