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How to remove a tick from a dog

Golden retriever getting a tick removed from its ear

There comes a time in every dog owner’s life when they notice a tick on their canine companion. Although tiny, a tick can cause big harm to your dog – so it’s important to check your pup regularly and remove the ticks completely as soon as possible.

What are ticks?

Ticks are tiny parasitic creatures that latch onto your dog’s skin and suck their blood. Nope, it’s not a horror movie – it’s true! They are spider-like with eight legs and can vary in size between 1mm and 1cm.

Your dog is most likely to pick up a tick in the woods, tall grasslands or heath. However, if your garden is particularly luscious and green, you might find ticks there too. Ticks are particularly prominent in the summer months, but that’s not to say you should let your guard down in winter.

Why are ticks dangerous?

Lab with a tick crawling on its nose

Just because they’re small, it doesn’t mean they’re harmless. Ticks carry microbes that carry diseases. Lyme disease and Babesiosis are just two of the dangerous diseases your dog can get from a tick.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection with dangerous symptoms. Symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, lack of appetite, sore and inflamed joints and swollen lymph nodes. Lyme disease can also be dangerous to humans. If your dog has had a tick and starts to display any of these symptoms, we highly recommend taking them along to the vet as soon as possible.

What are the different kinds of ticks on dogs?

Depending on where you live, you may encounter different species of ticks. Common types of ticks include deer ticks, which live for up to two years and commonly reside in forestlands. These can carry Lyme disease, babesiosis, and anaplasmosis. You may also come across American Dog ticks, which are found in grassy fields and scrubland, away from dense tree cover. This species can transmit diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Tularemia.

Not all ticks carry diseases. Your dog may pick up a Lone Star tick, which although not dangerous, can cause particularly nasty bites. These guys also bite humans, so keep your eyes peeled and check your pup regularly.

Where to look for ticks on your dog?

White lab getting checked for ticks at the veterinarian

Technically, a tick could latch onto anywhere on your dog. However, their penchant for blood means they tend to pick certain spots on the body. Since your dog is most likely to pick up ticks in grasslands or in the woods, ticks often attach themselves to the flesh between a dog’s paws. You may also find ticks hiding in or around a dog’s ear, as this is a moist and warm area.

The eyes are also moist and warm, therefore a haven for ticks. They might blend in with the color of your dog’s fur and/or skin, so always inspect your dog’s eyes regularly.

You may also find ticks on your dog’s neck, particularly burrowed under the collar. This area is dark and warm. Ticks will be difficult to dislodge here, so remove your dog’s collar regularly and brush this area thoroughly. The longer a tick is there, the harder it will be to remove.

Can ticks attach to humans?

Yes, they can! Your dog may be the first step for a tick that’s been skulking in the grasslands or forest waiting for a new host. Once you get home, a tick can crawl onto your skin. It may attach or just bite, depending on the species of tick.

Ticks can carry diseases that affect humans, such as Lyme disease. For this reason, you should check your dog for ticks regularly to minimize the risk of them spreading to you and your family.

How do you remove a tick from a dog?

Brown tick crawling on a plant up close

Removing ticks from a dog can be tricky. They use their eight legs to burrow deeply into hard-to-find areas of your dog’s flesh. They will suck their host’s blood over a period of several days, causing them to swell and grow. This process involves an exchange of fluids. As a result, any previously diseased blood still present in the tick’s saliva can enter your dog’s bloodstream. This is how a dog can catch dangerous diseases from ticks.

Although it might be tempting to dive in with the tweezers, we recommend taking a few moments to read the following before attempting to remove a tick from your dog.

  1. Clean the area with an antiseptic solution, such as rubbing alcohol
  2. Always use clean tools – use the same solution to sterilize the tweezers or tick-removing device. This will help to prevent any further infections.
  3. Use fine-pointed tweezers or a dedicated tick-removing device, such as a Tick Twister. Never use your hands as this could cause the spread of infection.

Once you have prepared the area for removal, you will need to take a secure grip on the tick. A twisting motion will ensure the tick’s whole body is removed. If you’re in doubt about whether you’ve got the whole tick, don’t hesitate to visit your vet. The longer the tick is burrowed in your dog’s skin, the higher the risk of infection or disease.

After you have removed the tick, clean the area gently with rubbing alcohol. For the next few days, keep a close eye on your pup to make sure they have not picked up any nasty infection or diseases.

How to prevent ticks in the future

Brown dog walking through thick brush that could contain ticks

There’s no way to guarantee your dog will never pick up a tick again, but there are things you can do to minimize the risk.


If your dog is susceptible to picking up ticks, you can bathe your dog in medicated shampoo that kills ticks and fleas. This is an effective way of preventing ticks.

Spot-on Treatments

These treatments or oral medications pair well with shampoos. Due to the potency of these treatments, it’s important to consult your vet before administering them to your dog. They will be able to give advice on which spot-on treatment will be most effective for your pup.

Tick Dips

Dog getting checked under its collar for ticks

A dip is a concentrated chemical that is diluted in water and applied to the most susceptible areas of your dog. These treatments are not to be rinsed off, unlike shampoos. You should not use these intense treatments on young dogs (under four months) or pregnant or nursing dogs. We highly recommend speaking to your vet before administering any tick dips as they could cause pain if not properly used.

Tick Collars

As we’ve already mentioned, ticks just love to burrow under your dog’s collar. A tick collar can help prevent this by transferring a chemical onto your dog’s skin that deters and kills ticks on contact. Be aware that your dog may have an adverse reaction to the chemicals in the collar, so keep a close eye out for irritation or excessive scratching.

Whether ticks are a daily hassle or just a once-in-a-while issue, it’s important to keep your dog safe from these creepy critters. It takes just one infected tick to transfer disease to your dog – many of which can also be contracted by humans. Keep your family safe and carry out the above preventative measures to minimize your dog’s risk of getting ticks.

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Ellen forster author at sitstay.com

Ellen Forster
A passionate blogger and digital marketing professional from the United Kingdom. Ellen runs Content By The Sea, a web design and copywriting company based in Newcastle Upon Tyne. When she’s not working, Ellen is exploring the stunning British coastline with her retired greyhound, Potter.

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