How to Safely Remove a Tick From Your Dog

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A woman kneeling down to take a tick off of her small brown dog.
Kendall Abbott author of How to Safely Remove a Tick From Your Dog

As the season is changing from the colder months to the warmer months for us in the Northern Hemisphere. This means greener grass, leaves on the trees, flowers in full bloom, and more time spent outside for us and our pups. What also comes with the change in seasons is the bringing of all those pesky insects, especially ticks.

Ticks are tricky and somehow always find a way onto your pup. In this article, we’ll go into what ticks are and how to keep them away, as well as the safest, easiest, and best ways to remove them from your dog.


What are Ticks?

Ticks are technically arachnids, but we just see them as bugs. Ticks are what are called external parasites, meaning that they live by feeding on the blood of mammals, birds, and even sometimes reptiles and amphibians. Ticks live across the world in warmer and more humid environments.

Ticks generally live in the areas that grass meets the woods. The biggest concern with ticks is the diseases that they carry, the most common diseases that affect dogs in North America are Lyme Disease, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Babesiosis.

These are the diseases that ticks can pass from themselves to your dogs and sometimes even you. Another more rare disease is American canine hepatozoonosis, that doesn’t come from the tick biting the dog, but instead from a dog eating infected ticks.

There are many different specific types of ticks that exist in the world. The most common tick in North America are deer ticks, lone star ticks, black-legged ticks, American dog ticks, rocky mountain wood ticks, and brown dog ticks. Each of these ticks has the possibility of carrying different diseases with them, so it’s important to know that any tick is not a good tick for you or your pup.

Ticks are small and their bites don’t hurt, so you and your dog may not even feel them at all.


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How to Keep Ticks Away

The best way to initially keep ticks away from your dog is to clear out any area that ticks would be living. In many cases, this means removing any sort of brush at the edge of the woods, or at the very least not letting your dog go into that area. Another tip is to keep your grass cut short, as ticks will lay and wait on any shady areas for an animal to come through.


Removing Ticks From Your Dog

The first rule of ticks on your dog is to get them off quickly. If your dog is out in a wooded area that could be a habitat of ticks, it’s important to check them every day. You want to remove ticks with 24-36 hours of a bite.

To find ticks on your dog, you need to check him all over. The places that ticks like to bite most are around their groin, between their toes, in or around their ears, around their anal area, or their tail and eyelids. It’s relatively easy to find most ticks with a short-haired dog, as you’ll feel what might feel like a raised scab when you pet them. It is a little bit trickier with dogs with long hair, as you may not feel it. 

Long-haired dogs will need to be more carefully inspected for ticks, make sure to part their fur with your fingers across their body, and especially in those areas that ticks like to bite the most. There are a few recommended ways to remove a tick once you’ve found them, as well as a few ways that you should avoid them.

Methods to Use:

  • Tweezers
  • Part your dog’s hair around where the tick is, and place the tips of the tweezers around the tick, as close as you can get to the skin
  • Pull gently upward on the tick until it releases, be sure to not twist or jerk the tick
  • Dispose of the tick by killing it with rubbing alcohol or flushing it down the toilet
  • Clean the bite area as well as your hands with soap and water
  • Tick Removal Gadget
  • Place the opening of the gadget over the tick as close as you can get to your dog’s skin
  • Slide the gadget until the tick is in the narrow slot, and keep sliding, and the tick will come out
  • Dispose of the tick by killing it with rubbing alcohol or flushing it down the toilet
  • Clean the bite area as well as your hands with soap and water

Methods to Avoid:

  • Your Fingers
  • You want to avoid using your fingers as you might not get the head out of your dog’s skin, or you could cause the tick to vomit back inside of its bite which can increase the concern for a tick-borne illness or infection.
  • Using repellants on a tick that has bitten
  • Similar to why your fingers aren’t recommended, using a repellant on a tick that has bitten your dog can increase the chance that the tick vomits back into their bite, which can increase the possibility of a tick-borne illness or infection
  • Hot match
  • Everyone has heard this method, that you light a match, blow it out, and put it on the tick and it will release and crawl out. This method is not recommended for the same reason as the others, it can cause the tick to vomit back into their bite, and that can cause problems

Other Tips to Consider

Don’t be concerned if the mouth of the tick stays in your dog’s skin after you remove the tick. In most cases, this won’t cause any issues and will fall out in a few days like a splinter. When killing a tick, it is best to kill them with alcohol and put them in the trash, or to flush them down the toilet. 

If you put a removed tick in the sink or trash, it can crawl back out. Additionally, don’t squash or crush a tick to kill it, as if it’s an infected tick, it can get on your or your dog and cause issues. It is best to just flush it down the toilet.

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Most dogs will inevitably get a tick here and there, in most cases, ticks are not a huge cause for concern. Just remember to check your dog often for ticks if they’ve been near tick habitats and try to remove ticks within 24-36 hours of the tick biting. Follow these tips for tick removal and you and your dog will be prepared for everything that the Summer months have to offer.


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Meet The Author 

Kendall Abbott

Kendall Abbott obtained her Bachelor's Degree at the University of Kansas, she then went on to pursue her education and love for animals by attending the Animal Behavior College. When she isn't working Kendall enjoys hiking with her two dogs Oscar and Tank. She also loves taking time out of her day to coach her nieces youth basketball team.