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How to Properly Remove a Tick From Your Dog

Ticks carry diseases that are potentially life-threatening to your dog. While it's essential to check your furry friend thoroughly whenever he's been in the woods or tall grass, ticks are easy to miss. Scratching or biting at himself repeatedly in one place could be a sign your dog has one. If you notice this behavior, carefully recheck your dog. Common tick hangouts include his groin, paws, in or around the ears, the rectal area, tail and eyelids.

The fine points

Tweezers are the most effective way to remove a tick. But not all tweezers are created equal. For tick removal, use fine-point tweezers to avoid tearing the tick and spreading possible infection in your dog’s system. Never remove a tick with your fingers; in addition to being ineffective, squeezing may further spread pathogens. 

Steps for removing a tick

Step 1: Spread your dog’s fur and grasp the tick with tweezers, as near to the skin as possible.

Step 2: Slowly and gently, pull straight upward until the tick is released from the skin.

Step 3: Once you’ve removed the tick, dispose of it by flushing it down the toilet. Do not put it in a trash bin. It’s too easy for the tick to crawl back out.

Step 4: Rinse your hands thoroughly and clean the bite area with warm salted water. Scrub the tweezers with disinfectant. 

There are also tick removal gadgets on the market, such the Tick Key, Tick Twister or the Tick Stick.

Prevention is best

There are many chemical tick sprays and collars that repel insects. However, these pesticides can be toxic and can cause dangerous side effects for your dog. Safer natural remedies that make dogs less appealing to ticks and fleas include apple cider vinegar and essential oils. Practicing good pet hygiene and grooming will go a long way toward keeping your dog safe from tick bites. Always ask your veterinarian to perform a tick check at each exam and teach you the best ways to do it yourself.

When to seek medical attention

Most illnesses from ticks aren’t transmitted instantly, so if you get ticks off of your dog within 24 to 36 hours of a tick bite, she’s unlikely to get an infection. Symptoms of tick-borne illnesses vary depending on the tick type, but can include loss of appetite, eye and nose discharge, changes in gum color and more serious conditions, such as seizures, paralysis and an abnormal blood count.

If you suspect your dog has been infected from a tick bite, visit your veterinarian immediately.