Dogs love being outside! Running through fields of long grass, exploring in the woods, hiking on trails… All of these activities are great for people and dogs alike.
However, they also expose your dog to ticks. If they aren’t on tick prevention medication, you might find ticks on your dog often.
In this article, we’ll explain how to remove a tick from a dog, what to look for after your dog has been bitten, how to prevent tick-borne illnesses, and more.
Table of Contents:
How to Remove a Tick from a Dog
The Humane Society recommends looking for ticks every time you groom your dog, especially if they spend a lot of time outside or you live in a highly infested area.
Here’s how to remove a tick from a dog:
- Check the dog’s entire body. Run your fingers through your dog’s fur along their skin, feeling for swelling. If you notice a lump, pause, part the fur, and examine the area to determine if it’s a tick you’ve found.
Check your dog’s entire body, including hard-to-see places like between the toes, inside the ears, and on your dog’s belly.
We recommend doing this even if you know your dog has a tick, as you might find more ticks on your dog’s body during your search.
- Identify the tick. Ticks can be incredibly small and tan, brown, or black in color. They have eight legs.
- Gather your materials. You’ll need tweezers or a tick remover, gloves, disinfectant, and isopropyl alcohol.
- Put on your gloves. You don’t want to handle ticks without gloves for your own safety.
- Using tweezers, pinch the tick close to your dog’s skin. Avoid your dog’s skin so that you don’t hurt them. Pull the tick out straight, keeping your hand steady.
- Using a tick remover, press it gently on the skin near the tick and slide the notch beneath the tick. This should pull it free.
- Drop the tick in the isopropyl alcohol to kill it. You don’t want it grabbing onto anyone else! Keep the tick in case your dog becomes ill, as your veterinarian can run tests on it.
- Visit the veterinarian. Watch for signs of illness such as lack of movement, swollen joints or lymph nodes, fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, lameness, and neurological problems.
But even if you don’t notice symptoms, it’s worth having the vet take a look at your dog and prescribe parasite prevention to prevent illness in the future. If your dog is already on tick prevention, you can skip this step unless you notice symptoms.
You should also check the rest of your family for ticks once you’re done. If your dog has one, others in the household might, too, especially those who’ve gone outside with your dog.
How to Prevent Ticks on Dogs
- Talk to your veterinarian about tick prevention medication. Not all parasite prevention medications cover ticks, and those that do sometimes don’t cover every type of tick. Make sure your dog is protected adequately from the ticks and illnesses in your area.
- Check your dog for ticks regularly. If your dog is on tick prevention, they might be loose in the fur. If not, you may find them dug into your dog’s skin and in need of removal.
- Keep the lawn mowed. This will give your dog fewer chances of being bitten in the backyard.
- Clean the house. Regularly vacuuming the floors and washing your dog’s bedding helps eliminate ticks your dog has brought inside. They can hide on carpet, furniture, and fabric.
- Groom your dog regularly. Brushing their fur and giving them baths as needed, depending on your dog’s breed and outdoor activities, will keep them clean and allow you to spot ticks faster.
- Don’t use flea and tick collars. These collars contain poison that can hurt your dog and your family. Soresto pet collars have led to 1,700 pet deaths, and other brands aren’t any better.
Do Ticks Hurt Dogs?
Ticks not only hurt dogs but can kill them. This is why it’s so important that your dog is on tick preventative.
Often, you can fully remove a tick and see no further symptoms in your dog. However, there are many risks that come with tick bites. These include:
- Not fully removing the tick
- The bite becoming infected
- Lyme disease
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
How do I Know if my Dog has Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is one of the common concerns for a dog who’s been bitten by a tick. After a bite, you’ll want to watch for symptoms
Symptoms of Lyme disease include:
- Lack of appetite
- Low energy level
- Lameness, stiffness, discomfort, and pain
- Swollen joints
More serious symptoms include kidney disease and cardiac and neurological problems. Lyme disease can be fatal.
Luckily, it can also be treated with antibiotics.
Can Humans Catch Lyme Disease?
Humans can catch Lyme disease, but not from dogs.
Still, it’s important to check the entire family for ticks if you find one on your dog. Those who went out with the dog may have gotten a tick themselves. Dogs can also bring ticks indoors, and they can then bite people or other pets in the household.
Talk to your doctor about whether you should be tested for Lyme disease. If you have other pets, check them over as well and ask your veterinarian for advice on testing.
The good news is that dogs also can’t spread Lyme disease directly to your other pets—so they’re only at risk if they were also bitten by an infected tick.
What Kills Ticks on a Dog Instantly?
Before killing the tick, remove it from your dog using the instructions above. You can then dip it in isopropyl alcohol to kill it.
Keep the tick and remember the date your dog was bitten. Your veterinarian may need this information if your dog gets sick. For instance, the Humane Society notes that the tick can be tested and identified.
What to Put on a Tick to Draw it Out?
Solutions used to draw out a tick aren’t recommended because they don’t work reliably, and you never want to cause more harm than good!
VCA Animal Hospital lists petroleum jelly, grease, and a hot match held to the tick as things you shouldn’t do. They explain that these methods can make the tick drool, increasing your dog’s chance of becoming sick.
It’s best to remove the tick entirely from your dog’s skin by pulling it out with tweezers or using a tick removal tool.
If you need help or you don’t get the entire tick out, visit your veterinarian as soon as possible.