Ticks are some of the worst parasites dog owners need to deal with. They're most prevalent in the Eastern part of the United States, mainly in Rocky Mountains, and often found in limited areas on the west coast. Ticks are attracted to warmth and motion, making dogs a great target, and knowing how to remove a tick from a dog is crucial.
While feeding on your dog's blood, ticks can pass a number of dangerous diseases:
- Lyme Disease
- Canine Anaplasmosis
- Tularemia (also known as Rabbit Fever)
- Tick paralysis
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Ticks live in tall plants or grass in and around wooded areas. The more rural the area you live in is, the more at risk your dog is of contracting a tick. There are products to prevent ticks, but it's best to check your dog for them daily anyway. Look around a dog's ears, between toes, on the face and belly, between skin folds, and around the area where your dog's back legs meet the body.
How to Remove a Tick From a Dog
Supplies You'll Need
You'll need to have a few tools to remove a tick from a dog – don't do it with your fingers. Always keep these supplies in your pet's first aid kit.
- Latex gloves (to avoid transmitted diseases)
- Rubbing alcohol
- Tick remover tool (or tweezers)
- Resealable plastic bag or airtight container
- Antiseptic spray or wipe (I like this PetMD one)
Once you have all the supplies gathered by your side, it's time to remove the tick. I recommend using a tick grabber/tick remover tool, because they are specifically designed to remove the entire tick (including the mouth piece, which is important). There are two types of tick removers, grabber like this and like this one. They're both effective.
Note: Yes, you can use regular tweezers instead, but the risk of ripping off the tick's body and leaving its mouth piece embedded in your dog's skin is much greater when using tweezers, and that can be dangerous to your dog.
Before you begin, put on latex gloves. Since my dog didn't actually have a tick on her in the video, I didn't have to wear gloves. However, when you're dealing with real ticks, it is important to protect yourself from any diseases they may be carrying by wearing gloves.
1. Get the tick remover (or tweezers) as close to the dog's skin as possible. To do this, pull the skin tight.
2. Place the tick grabber around the tick's body, and press it against the dog's skin.
3. Close the grabber tightly and firmly, then pull the tick straight out.
Note: DO NOT twist the tick as you pull because that may separate the body from the mouth piece. Instead, use gentle pressure and pull straight upwards, so you don't crush the tick's body.
4. Put the tick directly into the resealable bag or airtight container. Do not touch the tick with your hands.
5. Add a small amount of rubbing alcohol to the bag/container. You can also do this before removing the tick from a dog as I did in my video above. The rubbing alcohol will kill the tick, while still allowing you to keep it for testing if your dog becomes ill.
6. Clean the tick bite site with an antiseptic spray or wipe, and you're done.
Keep the tick in the container for at least 3-4 weeks. Lyme disease, the most common disease transmitted by ticks, can take up to a month to show symptoms on a dog.
After Removing the Tick from Your Dog
You'll need to monitor the tick bite site daily for 3 to 4 weeks. You may notice a bit of redness around the bite for the first few days, but that should slowly go away. The bite site may also scab over, which is completely normal.
However, if you notice that your dog is acting strangely after tick removal, or you see any signs of swelling or a rash near where the tick bite was, you'll need to bring the dog (and the tick in the container) into your veterinarian's office for testing.
You should also keep an eye on your pet for the next 2 months to make sure they don't show any signs of other tick-spread diseases. Look out for the following symptoms:
- swollen lymph nodes
- reluctance to move
- loss of appetite
- any strange behavior
If you notice any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your vet right away. If you still have the tick (which you should), bring it with you to your appointment.
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