Finding a tick on your dog isn’t the best feeling, especially if you don’t know how long it’s been there. Thankfully, it’s pretty easy for most dog owners to remove a tick from their dog if you have the right supplies on hand.
No one wants to find a tick on their dog because ticks are nasty little creatures that can carry a mess of diseases.
That’s why it is always important for dog owners like myself to check our dogs regularly during tick season, especially if we’ve been in areas that are heavily wooded or spaces with tall grass and weeds.
A few ways that have worked well for me in checking my dogs for ticks using my hands, a flea comb or even a lint roller to check the dog’s coat.
I always pay close attention to areas that ticks like to hide out in like the dog’s head, groin, paws, ears and neck.
Most species of ticks won’t bite right away so you have a good chance of removing them before they do any damage!
If you find a tick on your dog, don’t worry, it’s pretty easy to remove ticks from your dog’s skin.
How To Remove A Tick From Your Dog
The first thing you’ll want to do is remain calm, the next thing you want to do is safely remove the tick from your dog and dispose of it properly.
It’s important to remove a tick as soon as possible because most tick varieties will begin to spread nasty diseases like Lyme disease within 24-48 hours of biting.
- With a pair of pointy tweezers or a tick removal tool, grab the tick as close to the skin as you can. (check out this tick remover kit that has over 4,000 Amazon reviews!)
- Once you have a good grasp, in one steady motion swiftly pull the tick away from your dog’s skin.
- Place the tick in a container with rubbing alcohol.
- Next, gently clean the area where you removed the tick from your dog’s skin with warm water and apply a small amount of antibiotic ointment but don’t let your dog lick it.
- Place the tick in a container filled with rubbing alcohol.
- Monitor the area where the tick bite occurred for any redness, or skin irritation, or swelling and contact your vet if you have any concerns.
Most dog owners have found a tick hiding out on their dogs.
I’ve found my fair share on each of my dogs and I even had one crawling on me a few months ago.
How Not Remove a Tick From Your Dog
There are many old remedies to removing a tick that simply do not work and can cause more harm than good.
If you find a tick on your dog do not try to remove it with:
- Nail polish
- A burnt match or cigarette
- Your fingers
- Peppermint oil
The only foolproof method for tick removal from a dog’s skin is to use pointy tweezers.
The reason being is that not all ticks attach to a dog the same way.
Some ticks have longer and stronger mouthparts and some secrete different fluids that help them stay attached longer.
Common Ticks Found On Dogs
We’re in an area where we see American Dog Ticks and Black-legged so the quicker I can find them and remove them, the better.
As a former vet tech, I’ve had my fair share of tick encounters and I would be perfectly fine never seeing one again!
It’s important as a dog owner to familiarize yourself with the ticks in your area and find out as much as you can about them including what areas they are most in and what diseases they carry.
American Dog Ticks do not transmit Lymes Disease but they can transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and tularemia.
In addition, American dog ticks can cause tick paralysis, which can lead to severe respiratory distress and muscle weakness in those affected.
Should You Worry If You Find a Tick On Your Dog?
I tend to panic when I find a tick and then respond but it’s important to just remain calm and remove the tick.
Once you remove the tick, it’s time to figure out what type of tick it is.
You can always reach out to your veterinarian if you have any questions.
Most veterinarians that I know, won’t have a dog come into the hospital for a tick bite unless the area is red, swollen and infected.
It’s important to monitor the area where your dog was bit by a tick for a few days up to a week to make sure it heals well.
Can You Tell How Long a Tick Has Been Attached To Your Dog?
The longer the tick is attached to your dog’s skin, the greater the risk of it transmitting diseases and bacterial infections.
The longer a tick stays attached to a dog, the more it feeds, the bigger it gets and the more likely it will transmit a disease to its host.
If the tick’s body looks swollen and lighter grey in color, it’s considered engorged and it’s probably been attached to your dog for at least 24-36 hours.
If you find the tick wandering through your dog’s coat and it hasn’t attached yet, it’s only been there for less than 2 hours.
Most ticks will fall off of a dog after they are finished feeding.
What To Do After You’ve Removed The Tick From Your Dog
Removing the tick from your dog’s skin is the first step, next you’ll want to dispose of the tick safely.
How to get rid of a tick
There are a few ways that you can dispose of ticks.
The CDC recommends that live ticks be disposed of by
- submerging the tick in alcohol
- placing the tick in a sealed bag or container
- wrapping the tick tightly in tape
- flushing the tick down the toilet
If you want to send the tick out to be identified it’s recommended that the tick be wrapped in a moistened paper towel, placed in a sealed bag, and frozen until you take it to your veterinarian or send it out for testing.
It’s recommended never to ever crush a tick with your fingers after it’s been removed because it could transmit diseases.
Clean the tick bite area
Once the tick has been removed a disposed of properly, you’ll want to clean the area with warm soap and water or isopropyl alcohol and apply an antibiotic cream if you have one.
You’ll also want to make sure that you clean your hands well.
Mark the spot
It’s a good idea to keep an eye on the area where the tick was removed from your dog for at least several weeks.
I like to trim the hair around the bite area.
This way I can find it easy and if I need to have the vet take a look at it for any reason, it’s easy for them to find too.
Your next steps will be to watch the site of the bite for any oozing, rashes, skin irritation, or swelling.
Take a picture of the tick found on your dog’s body
If you’re unsure of which type of tick you’ve removed from your dog, take a picture.
You can send the picture to your vet or there are tick identification sites that you can email the picture to and get it identified.
I sent a picture of our tick to TickEncounters at The University of Rhode Island.
I received a response back in less than 12 hours and they said what tick it was, what diseases it could carry and what to watch out for.
It’s a really great free service!
Even if you find a dead tick, you should still take a picture of it before you dispose of it.
Send the tick out
If you’re worried about your dog getting sick from the tick bite you can send the dead tick off to be tested.
There’s usually a fee for this service and the drawbacks can be that you’ll get sick before you get the results back or the tests can give false positives according to the CDC.
If you’re not going to send the tick out you might want to keep it on hand for a few days or even a few weeks in case your dog shows signs of being sick.
I store our ticks in alcohol in a pill vial but you can also use a sealed plastic bag.
Some people also tape it to an index card and write the date that the tick was removed on the card.
If you want to dispose of the tick it’s recommended to flush it down the toilet
Find the source of the ticks
Where did your dog get the tick bite from?
Did they pick it up on a walk?
From your yard?
I retraced our steps when I found the tick on Leroy.
Based on where it was and how engorged it was and the fact that I haven’t found any ticks on Sherman, I’m 90% sure it came from our walk.
I can picture Leroy walking through a low-hanging weed bush and that’s probably where the tick came from.
Things you should keep in mind when you find a tick on your dog:
Ticks can be found on any dog
Ticks don’t care what their host is as long as they can feed on it.
They don’t pick and choose dogs.
If a dog walks by they grab on.
Some people think that dogs with thick coats can’t get a tick.
Many Newfoundland dogs have proved that theory wrong.
Ticks don’t fall from trees or bushes, they grab on with their gross legs when a host walks by.
No area is safe
They say that ticks like to hide out on dogs where the hair is thinner such as by the ears, under the front legs and one the inner part of the thighs.
I have never found a tick in those areas.
I’ve found ticks on the muzzle area, chest back, and side.
No tick product is 100% effective
There is no tick product on the market that is 100% effective, they are usually 99.9% effective or less.
This means that no matter what product you’re using there’s a chance that you may still find a tick on your dog at some point.
Many ticks products, especially oral tick preventative medications and some topical preventatives, do not repel ticks but they kill ticks when they latch on.
We’ve used the Seresto collar for the past 4 years with pretty good success and I’m sticking with it even though Leroy had a tick.
What I am going to do is add more protection through tick repellents.
Check Your Dog’s Body For Ticks Often
This is where I failed.
I should have been a more thorough check every single day and I wasn’t
I was checking him about once a week and seeing as this tick was attached for about 4-5 days I should definitely increase my ticks to every day or at least every other day.
The killer on this particular tick incident was that I was line combing him in this area the other night and I didn’t see it.
It was there, I just missed it.
It’s super important to check your dog for ticks right away after a walk or long periods of time outside.
Ticks don’t bite right away, instead, they roam around on the body for several minutes or even hours looking for a dark place to feed on their host.
This is why you should be checking for loose ticks BEFORE you do anything else.
I like to use a lint roller or a Tick Mitt to check myself and my dogs for ticks that might have hitched a ride.
Last week I rolled off over 7 small ticks from the top of my shoes!
Should You Take Your Dog To The Vet After Finding a Tick On Your Dog?
Most vets don’t have you come in if you found a tick on your dog, unless your dog’s health is in question at the time.
They will however have you monitor your dog and the area where the tick was found on your dog to watch for any issues like:
- joint swelling
- skin irritation
- flu-like symptoms
- difficulty breathing
For many of us dog owners, ticks are going to be inevitable this year and the best prevention is going to be being one step of the ticks and being vigilant in checking our dogs after any outdoor activities.
How To Be Prepared For Tick Bites
Have a tick kit!
It’s important to remove a tick as soon as possible so if you have a pre-planned tick kit all you have to is grab the kit!
A tick kit should include tweezers or a tick remover tool, rubbing alcohol, a plastic bag or empty pill vial, cotton balls and antibiotic ointment.
You can also include latex gloves and a sheet of white paper or an index card.
If a tick kit isn’t your style, grab this Premium Tick Remover Kit. It has everything you need to properly remove a tick from your dog!
Looks Like A Tick But Isn’t a Tick
Nipples, skin tags and small tumors or growth have often been mistaken for a tick.
All dogs (male and female) have nipples and those nipples don’t have little legs on them like ticks do.
Please don’t pull on your dog’s nipple or skin tags.