How To Remove A Tick From A Dog – Your Step by Step Guide

Are you wondering how to remove a tick from a dog?

There are plenty of myths and misconceptions when it comes to tick removal, with many guides giving incorrect or even harmful advice.

So today, we’re going to clear it up and help you learn how to remove a tick from a dog safely, effectively and painlessly.

Let’s get started.

How To Remove A Tick From A Dog – What Are Ticks?

Pic 1 a tick on a leaf
Ticks are arachnids that feed on animal and human hosts. 

Before we get into how to remove a tick from a dog, it’s important for you to understand what ticks are, where they live and how they behave.

Ticks are arachnids closely related to spiders. These critters feed on blood from both humans and animals, and are primarily found outdoors in forested areas rich in felids, woods and grasses, though they have also been known to live in coastal regions and near beaches.

Most ticks are common in areas rich in wildlife, feeding on animals like deer, rabbit, racoons, and even rodents. They also feed on the blood from lizards and birds.

There are several species of tick found throughout the United States that you may content with when it comes to how to remove a tick from a dog, with the most common being:

  • The Brown Dog Tick
  • The American Dog Tick
  • The Deer Tick
  • The Rocky Mountain Wood Tick
  • The Lone Star Tick

On average, adult ticks are around 1/8th of an inch in size, though their abdomines can grow when engorged with blood. Ticks are usually a light brown color, have eight legs, and are most active during spring and fall.

When looking up how to remove a tick from a dog, remember that ticks do not have wings and do not jump. Instead, they lay in wait in tall grasses, branches, and shrubs, and they latch onto a host as it passes by. Once attached, a tick uses its mouthparts to insert itself to the skin, where it burrows in for a prolonged feed.

Most tick bites do not hurt, but can become irritating after a short period once the tick has burrowed its way inside the flesh.

While ticks can be found throughout the United States, they are most common in higher elevations, including the Northeast and upper Midwest states. If you live in these areas, it’s a very good idea to learn how to remove a tick from a dog.

Are Ticks Dangerous?

Pic 2 an engorged tick on a persons hand
Not all ticks spread disease, but many do.

Not all ticks carry disease, but many do. According to the American Kennel Club, ticks can transmit a number of illnesses to pets including:

  • Lyme Disease
  • American Canine Hepatozoonosis
  • Babesiosis (Piroplasmosis
  • Cytauxzoonosis
  • Tularemia
  • Haemobartonellosis
  • Anaplasmosis
  • Tick Paralysis
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
  • Ehrlichiosis

Even if a tick is not carrying a disease, it can still be dangerous to your pet if you do not know how to remove a tick from a dog properly.

Contrary to popular belief, ticks do not have sectioned body parts and therefore do not have “heads”. Instead, they have mouthparts, and these mouthparts often become lodged in the skin of a host during attempted or botched removal.

If the mouthparts get stuck inside the body of your dog, it’s important to properly disinfect the area and contact your veterinarian. While most of the time the tick parts will come out on their own, they can also cause infection and pain.

Luckily, it can take some time for an infected tick to spread an illness once it’s attached. This is why it’s so important to know how to remove a tick from a dog quickly upon finding it.

In most cases, ticks take between 36 and 48 hours after being attached to spread diseases to their host. Unfortunately, unless you check your dog everyday for ticks, it can be difficult to determine how long a tick has been attached. Furthermore, it often takes about two to five months for signs of illness to appear after a tick bite.

The good news is that only about 10% of dogs bitten by ticks will fall ill, so the odds are in your favor as long as you get that tick out ASAP.

Checking Your Dog For Ticks – Where To Look

Pic 3 a man looking in a dogs ear
Ticks have been known to hide in dog’s ears and around their eyes. 

It’s just as vital to know where to look on a dog for ticks as it is to know how to remove a tick from a dog.

Ticks can affect any part of your dog’s body, but they prefer certain areas where the skin is thin and loose. They may also latch on to specific areas due to convenience and due to your dog’s natural activity when outside.

The most common places ticks tend to hide on dogs include:

  • The Arm and Leg Pits
  • The Upper Front Legs
  • The Head
  • The Neck
  • Between Your Dog’s Paw Pads or “Toes”
  • In The Ears
  • Near the Eyes
  • And At The Base of Your Dog’s Tail

When looking for ticks on your dog, run your hands over these parts of his body first before moving on to the rest of his body. Make sure you move gently and slowly, and press your fingers through his fur towards his skin. An engorged tick often looks like a wart, so inspect anything protruding from your dog carefully. Ticks can also range in size, with nymphs often being quite small. Nymphs are also the most common culprits for spreading Lyme disease, so keep an especially close eye out for them.

How To Remove A Tick From A Dog – Step By Step

Pic 4 a diagram of tick removal 1
Remove the tick with fine-point tweezers or a tick removal tool, pulling straight up in a slow, steady motion. 

When looking up how to remove a tick from a dog, you’ll find that there are a few different methods. We are only going to list the ones we know to work, and the ones we know to work safely and as painlessly as possible for you and your pet.

Because all dogs are different and some may be anxious during the tick removal process, we suggest reading through both the below methods of how to remove a tick from a dog first before choosing the best method for you.

How To Remove A Tick From A Dog – The Fine Point Tweezer Method

What you’ll need:

  • 1 Clean Pair of Fine-Point Tweezers
  • A Pair of Rubber Gloves (Optional)
  • A Cotton Swab and Bottle Of Rubbing Alcohol

Step 1 – Clean the fine-point tweezers with a cotton ball saturated in rubbing alcohol to ensure they are sanitized and free of bacteria.

Step 2 – Spread your dog’s fur with one hand where the tick is. If your dog is anxious, it may be helpful to have someone else assist you and distract the dog with treats.

Step 3 – With your free hand, take the fine-point tweezers and grasp the tick near the skin. It is best to be touching the skin with the tweezers to help get all of the tick out at once. That said, be careful not to pinch your dog’s skin.

Step 4 – Carefully pull the tweezers and the tick straight up. Do not pull at an angle, or you could remove part of the tick and leave the mouthpart behind. Pull slowly and steadily to ensure you remove the entire tick.

Step 5 – Once you have properly gone through the above steps for how to remove a tick from a dog, clean the bite area with a clean cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol.

How To Remove A Tick From A Dog – The Tick Removal Hook 

What you’ll need:

  • 1 Tick Removal Hook
  • A Pair of Rubber Gloves (Optional)
  • A Cotton Swab and Bottle Of Rubbing Alcohol

Step 1 –  Clean the tick removal hook with a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol to ensure it is sanitized.

Step 2 – Spread your dog’s fur just as you are instructed to do in the above instructions on how to remove a tick from a dog using tweezers. Again, if your dog is anxious about what you are doing, try distracting him with treats or have someone help you.

Step 3 –  With your free hand, put the tick hook removal tool down around the tick. Make sure the prongs are on either side of the tick, and press down gently. Then twist and pull upward slowly.

Step 4 – Once the tick is removed, clean the bite site on your dog with a clean cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol to reduce chances of infection.

How To Remove A Tick From A Dog – Tools You Can Use

Pic 5 a closeup of a tick
Ticks have mouthparts that can get lodged in the skin if the proper tools are not used.

When it comes to how to remove a tick from a dog, not all tools are created equal. If you live in a region that is rich in tick activity or you are an outdoor enthusiast, it is a good idea to invest in some quality tick-removal tools for both you and your pet.

The below products are safe o for how to remove a tick from a dog but can also be used on cats and even people.

Take a look.

Tick Tornado ZenPet Tick Remover

The above tool is specifically designed for how to remove a tick from a dog. It is small, compact, and simple to use, helping to remove the tick safely, easily and painlessly. It removes both adult and nymph ticks from dogs, but can also be used on people and cats.

The order includes two tools depending on the size of the tick in question and can be ordered in different pack sizes.

HomeSake Tick Removal Tool

This is another tick removal tool you can use for how to remove a tick from a dog, cat or even a person. It includes three different tick removal tools in each pack at different sizes depending on the tick you are dealing with.

We like that this tick removal tool is an easy and pain-free way to remove a tick. You can order these tick removal tools in packs of one or even up to 10. You also have the option of ordering an entire removal kit for how to remove a tick from a dog.

TickEase Tick Remover Tweezers

The tools you use for how to remove a tick from a dog are very important, and it’s important to use fine-point tweezers so as not to crush the tick or push contaminated blood back into your dog.

If you don’t have fine-point tweezers how to remove a tick from a dog or if you are worried your tweezers will not do the trick, you can always purchase some tweezers that are specifically designed for tick removal.

These tweezers above safely and effectively remove ticks from dogs, cats and people. You can use both sizes as well, depending on your needs.

The Dos and Don’ts Of How To Remove A Tick From A Dog

Pic 6 a warning sign of ticksRemoving a tick the wrong way could lead to lasting consequences, so know the dos and don’ts. 

DO:

Remove the Tick Immediately – As soon as you find a tick on your dog, remove it.

Use Fine Point Tweezers Or A Tick Removal Tool- Only use fine-pointed tweezers or a specified tick removal tool for how to remove a tick from a dog. Blunt tweezers may end up crushing the tick or pushing blood and bacteria back into your dog.

Grasp The Tick By The Head – Or as close to the head as possible. Grabbing the tick by the abdomen can push contaminated blood back into your dog.

Pull Slowly Upwards – Pull with a steady pressure straight up to ensure you remove the entire tick and his mouthparts.

Clean The Affected Area Once Finished – Do not remove a tick and then leave the bite zone without cleaning it. Rubbing alcohol should suffice. If the mouthparts remain stuck in the dog, which happens sometimes, soak the affected area with warm water and it should come out.

Save The Tick – Hold onto the tick and work to identify it. Not all tick species carry or transmit disease, but if your dog gets sick you may be able to use the tick to identify the underlying cause.

Contact Your Vet – Let them know your dog was bitten and that you have the tick. Bring your dog into the vet if he seems in pain or is incessantly licking or scratching at the affected area even after you have removed the tick. You should also bring your dog in if the bite area becomes red, inflamed or infected.

DO NOT: 

Soak the Tick In An Attempt to Force It Out – It is unlikely that soaking the tick in petroleum jelly, alcohol, nail polish remover, soap, etc will work for how to remove a tick from a dog and could instead cause irritation to your dog’s skin.

Attempt To Burn The Tick Out – Using a match or flame for how to remove a tick from a dog is dangerous and could cause injury to your dog.

Pull or Jerk The Tick Out – Pulling or jerking the tick out too quickly could cause its mouthparts to break off inside your dog. It could also push contaminated blood back into your dog.

Attempt To Remove the Tick With Your Hands – Trying to remove a tick with your fingers will crush the tick and cause the mouthparts to remain inside. It could also squeeze contaminated blood back into your dog.

Get Rid Of The Tick Immediately – Remember, contact your vet before disposing of the tick and ask if they wish to see the tick. You may also take a picture for future records.

After You’ve Removed The Tick – What’s Next?

Pic 7 a black dog looking up
Remove the tick and clean the affected area with a clean cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol. 

Immediately upon removing the tick make sure the tick is dead and then store it in a plastic bag. Call your veterinarian to let them know your dog has been bitten by a tick, and ask if they would like for you to bring the tick in for identification or your dog in for an exam.

In most cases, veterinarians will not need to see your dog. However, they can give you instructions on how to further care of the tick bite and give you signs and symptoms to watch for in your dog for the next few weeks.

Once you have gone through the steps for how to remove a tick from a dog, make sure you wash your hands and then clean the affected area on your dog’s skin. You can use rubbing alcohol and a clean cotton swab, or you may use soapy water and a rag. It’s important to make sure the area stays clean and dry for the next few days.

Keep an eye on the affected area and watch your dog’s behavior. If the area becomes inflamed or infected, or if your dog begins to behave as if he is in pain, is incessantly licking the area, or chewing or scratching at the area, then it is best to take him to the vet to ensure he does not have an infection, as we mentioned above.

Products You Can Use To Protect Your Dog From Ticks

Pic 8 a dogs paws next to a towl and shampoo bottle
Tick repellent shampoos can help you not only keep an eye on your dog and check for ticks but also kill any ticks currently on him. 

Once you’ve learned how to remove a tick from a dog, chances are you won’t want to do it again. Ticks are not only unpleasant, they can also be very dangerous.

The best way to protect your dogs from ticks is to use preventatives like flea and tick collars and to spray your yard with tick repellent year-round.

Here are some of our favorite products you can use to keep your dog and your self safe from ticks.

Yaya Organics Tick Ban Spray

This spray is an all natural spray that offers complete protection from ticks. It is safe to use on people and pets and is made with natural ingredients like essential oils, including cedarwood oil, peppermint oil, rosemary oil, lemongrass oil, geranium oil, and thyme oil.

Avoid the eyes and face when spraying it on your dog or yourself. You can spray it over clothing, on your gear and directly on your skin to protect yourself and your pets from ticks.

The spray only lasts once and will need to be reapplied each time you go on a hike or outting. However, it is a great targeted protection that is organic, DEET free, and effective.

Arava Natural Flea and Tick Prevention Collar

Another all natural product you can use to prevent ticks on your dog is the Arava Flea and Tick Prevention Collar. This collar uses all natural ingredients like peppermint oil, lemongrass oil, clove oil and more to repel fleas and ticks and keep your dog safe and healthy.

It lasts for up to six months and is free of pesticides or chemicals, making it safe for family dogs, puppies, and for pets to wear indoors.

K9 Advantix Flea and Tick Prevention

This flea and tick repellent for dogs is made by Bayer and offers one month of protection against ticks, fleas and mosquitoes with each application, but you can order it in different doses depending on your needs. The product works within 12 hours of being applied and is a topical application formula.

However, this product is not considered organic and does contain ingredients that could be harmful to children and pets if not used correctly. Make sure to read the instructions and use it only as directed.

Vet’s Best Flea and Tick Yard Spray

Along with knowing how to remove a tick from a dog and protecting your dog from future ticks, it’s also a good idea to invest in a good yard spray. The above spray by Vet’s Best is designed to be used in yards and dog runs where dogs play often. It is made with natural ingredients and essential oils, making it perfectly safe for people and pets but deadly for ticks.

It also works against fleas and mosquitoes. The spray covers up to 5,000 square feet and comes concentrated, so it will need to be attached to your water hose to dilute it and apply it effectively.

Sentry Flea and Tick Shampoo

Another way to protect your dog from ticks is to use a dog-safe tick repellent shampoo. We are fans of Sentry Flea and Tick Shampoo above because it is specifically designed to use on dogs. It is made of quality ingredients and includes oatmeal to help soothe and nourish your dog’s skin and coat.

It can kill fleas and ticks already on your dog as well as help prevent future fleas and ticks from biting. This shampoo is safe to use on dogs and puppies 12 weeks and older.

However, this shampoo does contain permethrin. Permethrin is a natural insecticide and anti-parasit chemical that can be toxic to people and pets if ingested. Use this shampoo only as directed and keep it out of reach of children.

DIY Tips On Protecting Your Dog From Future Tick Bites

pic 9 a boston terrier in the grass
Keep your lawn cut short to help reduce tick activity in your yard.

While it’s very important to know exactly how to remove a tick from a dog and then protect your dog using quality products you trust, there are also some home remedies you can use and implement in and around your house to further protect your furry loved ones.

Keep Up On Landscaping

Remember, ticks thrive in grassy areas, so you can help reduce them in your yard by removing their natural habitat. Keep your lawn trimmed short and put a barrier around your home to keep wild animals out like a tall fence.

You can also put down cedar mulch around forested areas to repel ticks and other nuisance pests.

Use A Tick Prevention Spray In Your Yard

As we mentioned above, it’s a good idea to use a tick repellent spray in your backyard and on your property, especially if you have dogs and children that play outside often.

Tick prevention doesn’t have to include chemical or insecticidal sprays. There are plenty of tick-repellent sprays that are natural and safe. However, if you live in an area with an especially large number of ticks or in a region where tick borne illnesses are prevalent, you might want to consider using an repellent with DEET or Permethrin.

Keep Your Dog Protected With Tick Repellents During Tick Season

Tick repellents for dogs come in many forms from sprays, to collars, to chews, to oils. You can purchase tick repellents online, at pet shops, or even from your veterinarian. While some repellents are all natural, as you saw above, others contain chemical insecticides.

Speak with your veterinarian about the best option for you and your pet if you’re not sure.

Avoid Areas Rich In Ticks

Ticks prefer forested areas and coastal areas that are rich in wildlife. During tick season, avoid these areas with your dog, especially while hiking or exploring. If you are in areas rich with tall grasses, trees, and an abundance of wildlife, make sure to stick to the trail and that you and your dog are wearing tick repellents.

Keep Your Dog On A Leash During Hikes

Lots of dog-friendly hiking trails throughout the US allow dogs to roam freely off leash. While this is fun for your dog, it can also be dangerous. During tick season, consider keeping your dog on his leash so that he is less likely to run through tall grasses or areas where ticks could easily latch on.

Check Your Dog Routinely For Ticks

While tick borne illnesses are serious, it typically takes a few days of a tick being attached before an illness is spread. For this reason, check your dog often for ticks so that you can remove them quickly. Now that you know how to remove a tick from a dog, this shouldn’t be a problem.

We hope this has been a helpful guide on how to remove a tick from a dog correctly and safely. Remember, prevention is key but so is getting to that tick early. So stay vigilant and keep your eyes open.

Thanks for reading!

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