How to Remove a Tick From a Dog, Plus 9 Prevention Tips
Parenting a pet comes with joys and challenges. No matter what, you want the best for your pet. So, having a good understanding of the threats that exist will help you be the best pet parent you can be.
One big threat, especially with dogs who love the great outdoors, is ticks. Ticks are tiny pests that can carry and transmit infectious diseases to your dog.
Found all over the United States, it is likely you’ll run into a tick from time to time. Prepare yourself by learning:
- What to do if your dog has a tick
- How to remove a tick from a dog
- The dos and don’ts of safe tick removal
- 9 ways to prevent ticks
What to do if your dog has a tick
First and foremost, don’t panic. Finding creepy crawlers on your best friend isn’t fun. Learn what to do when your dog has a tick and get one step closer to a happy, healthy pet.
1. Identify the tick.
There are few types of ticks that you might encounter, like the American dog tick and brown dog tick. Each species has its own distinct markings and characteristics that will help you determine which tick you’re dealing with.
2. Look for signs of infection.
If you notice your dog scratching or biting a specific area on their body, they might have an unwanted critter. Be on the lookout for signs of tick bites like inflammation, redness, and rash.
3. Safely remove the tick.
If you find a tick attached to your dog you might wonder, how long do ticks stay on dogs? A tick stays attached during the feeding process, which can range from 5-7 days.
The longer the tick feeds, the greater the chance of infection. Learn the steps to safely remove ticks and avoid tick-borne disease.
4. Monitor your pet.
Tick-borne disease is never something a pet parent wants to deal with. Make sure you know the signs of tick-borne illness, like Lyme disease, and consult with a veterinarian if your pet begins to experience symptoms.
How to remove a tick from a dog
No matter how scary (and yucky) it can be, safely removing a tick from your pet is important. Here’s how to get a tick off a dog in 6 simple steps.
- Prep. Put on protective gloves and find a clean, open area with good lighting.
- Comfort. Have a helper carefully hold your dog and keep them calm with treats.
- Remove. Use a flea comb to separate your pet’s fur and access the tick. Take a clean removal tool and grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Slowly and steadily pull the tick out with gentle, but firm, upward pressure.
- Preserve. After removing the tick, place it in a small container with isopropyl alcohol—which will kill the tick. Write the date and location of the bite on the top.
- Clean. Wash your hands with soap and water and clean the bite area with antiseptic soap. Be sure to disinfect your removal tool with rubbing alcohol as well.
- Repeat! Scan your pet for additional ticks or tick bites and repeat the process.
Dos and don’ts of tick removal from a dog
When it comes to getting rid of ticks, there are a few strategies to avoid and some you should follow.
Do wear protective gear.
Never handle a tick with bare hands. Use protective gear and disinfect your hands, the bite site, and tools after removing them.
Don't try to suffocate the tick.
There are a few strategies that suggest encouraging the tick to back out of your dog’s skin on its own. Unfortunately, these methods can cause more problems than good.
Ways you should not remove a tick:
- Touch it with a hot match
- Cover it with petroleum jelly
- Dab it with nail polish or alcohol
- Freeze it off
Oftentimes the tick clings on tighter and may hurt your dog further. Additionally, when ticks feel threatened they can salivate and release any disease they are carrying and infect your pet.
Do use the right tools.
The best way to remove a tick from a dog is to start with the right tools. Here are a few items you might want to have on hand before you begin.
- Protective gloves
- Clean, fine-point tweezers or a tick removal tool
- A flea comb
- Disinfectant or antiseptic soap
- Isopropyl or rubbing alcohol
- Small container or jar
- Sharpie or pen
- A helper and treats
Don’t jerk, squeeze, or twist the tick.
Tick removal requires a slow, steady hand. Be careful not to squeeze too tightly and crush the tick. This can leave behind mouthparts (and tick saliva) which carry disease-causing pathogens.
Do save the tick.
Once you are able to completely remove the tick, save it for future reference. If your dog starts to develop symptoms after the tick bite, having the tick on hand will be helpful. Your vet can use it to determine the type of tick, its life stage, and any diseases it may carry.
How to prevent ticks on dogs
Knowing how to safely remove a tick from a dog is only half the battle. The best way to prevent a tick infestation is to be proactive about your pet’s exposure.
Flea and tick season isn’t limited to warmer months. This means you need a solution that protects your pet, no matter where you live.
Here are 9 prevention tips for keeping ticks off dogs, people, and your home.
Protect your pets.
It might be difficult to know how to keep ticks off dogs, but it's not impossible. Prevent ticks at every life cycle stage with these tips.
1. Use a vet-quality flea and tick treatment. To ward off pests and keep your pet happy and healthy, you need consistent and preventative flea and tick treatment. There are lots of products to choose from so be sure to do your research.
2. Choose a product with ingredients that work. Look for flea and tick protection that attacks fleas at every life cycle stage and repels ticks all year-long.
- Adulticides. These chemicals help kill adult ticks. Examples include Imidacloprid and Fipronil (found in Wags Advance® for Dogs).
- Insect Growth Regulators. These chemicals prevent flea eggs from hatching. Some examples include Pyriproxyfen and Methoprene.
- Pyrethroid. Pets can be infected by a tick bite, even if the tick later dies from an insecticide. Pyrethroids, like Permethrin, have a repellent effect which helps decrease the chances of an infection. Other products require the flea or tick to bite your pet to be effective.
Permethrin is toxic to cats so make sure you aren’t using one solution for all pets.
3. Inspect for ticks regularly. Ticks tend to climb and wait on grass or in bushes, no higher than 2 feet off the ground — the perfect height to attach to your dog. Give your pet a thorough scan after time outdoors, paying particular attention to key areas ticks like to feed.
4. Keep your pets groomed. When your dog’s fur is clean and combed you’ll be able to check for ticks more easily. Treat your pet with a sudsy bath after extended periods of time outside.
Ticks are just as harmful to you as they are to your pet. Stay in the center of trails and away from vegetation when hiking in wooded areas. And keep yourself safe with protective clothing and repellent.
5. Wear the right gear. Keep ticks at bay by wearing long pants and shirts, closed-toe shoes, and light-colored clothing to easily spot ticks.
6. Use an effective tick repellent. Sprays should have at least 20% DEET or PICARIDIN. Apply before heading outside and reapply as needed.
Protect your home.
If you find a tick in or around your house, contact a licensed pest control professional for help. Most companies offer a pet-friendly solution, but be sure to ask ahead of time. In the meantime, follow these tips for preventing pests.
7. Keep your yard clean. Improve tick control by removing weeds and keeping your grass short.
8. Secure your trash bins. Dispose of lawn clippings right away and secure garbage can lids to keep rodents (and their potential ticks) out.
9. Wash pet bedding and kennels. Some species of ticks thrive inside. Make a habit to clean your pet’s beds, blankets, and safe spaces often.
Harmful pests like fleas and ticks can be a nightmare to deal with as a pet parent. Keep your dog protected from disease and infection by staying up to date on your flea and tick knowledge and treatment.
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