6 Tips for How to Remove a Tick From a Dog Safely
Removing ticks on dogs properly can be tricky, but essential in ensuring that both you and your dog are safe. “Remember, ticks can transmit diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis or other diseases capable of infecting humans,” says Dr. Jeff Werber, DVM, chief medical director at Century Veterinary Group in Los Angeles. “So it is really important to properly remove any ticks found on your dog.”
Here are six tips for how to remove a tick from a dog safely and effectively:
Tip #1: Look for Ticks in Hidden Spots
Unless your dog is suddenly invaded by a battalion of ticks, chances are that you’ll have to look closely to find where the ticks are hiding. While it’s possible to find random ticks on your dog’s body, most prefer areas where it’s easier to hide. “They may often be found on the head, as this is the part of the body that comes into contact with places where ticks hide and live, like foliage,” says Dr. Cherie Pucheu-Haston, DVM, assistant professor of dermatology at LSU School of Veterinary Medicine. “Some types of ticks prefer to live in the ear canal.”
If you live in an area where ticks are prevalent, especially if your dog has walked through shrubbery, it might be a good idea to also check your dog’s tail, underneath the tail and between the toes. “The ears are a favorite spot for ticks to hang out around,” Dr. Werber says.
Tip #2: Identify Common Tick Locations
It won’t do you much good to constantly remove ticks from your dog if they’re living all around you, just waiting for a chance to jump back on your dog again. Know where the problem starts by finding out where they live.
“Ticks like to hang out by shrubbery, in grass and along trails or paths,” Dr. Werber explains. “From there they can latch on to you or to your dog. They can live, as can fleas, around the house, on carpets, on couches and in laundry baskets.” They “can also live in dog houses and kennels and like to hide in sheds and woodpiles,” adds Dr. Pucheu-Haston.
Tip #3: Keep Your Dogs Protected
To keep your dog protected against ticks, use a flea and tick preventative. Options for dog flea and tick prevention include monthly oral treatments, flea collars and topical treatments like K9 Advantix II or Frontline Plus. Find out more about flea and tick prevention for dogs.
You should still check your dog for ticks regularly and remove them as soon as you see them. This will not only help make your dog more comfortable for tick searches, but it also reduces the risk of ticks getting into your house or jumping to another animal.
Tip #4: How to Remove a Tick From a Dog Without Breaking the Tick
Tick removal needs to be done properly and safely, or you’ll end up causing trouble rather than helping. “If you pull the tick too firmly, chances are you will separate the head and mouth parts from the body, which can cause infection and/or irritation,” explains Dr. Werber.
Never use home remedies, such as mineral oil, petroleum jelly or a hot match, to try to get ticks “unstuck” from the skin. “These are not very effective and can actually increase the chance of infection by encouraging increased saliva production,” Dr. Werber says.
Tip #5: The Best Way to Remove a Tick is With Tick Removal Tools
Dr. Werber recommends using commercial tick removal tools as the best way to remove a tick. “If you attempt to pull out a tick yourself without such a device, you probably won’t manage, unless you are quite experienced,” Dr. Werber says. There are many different tick removal tools that you can use. The ZenPet Tick Tornado Tick Removal Tool and Dr. Mercola Tick Stick Dog & Cat Tick Removal Tool both use a twist action to safely and effectively remove ticks.
You can use wide-bladed tweezers if you don’t have a tick removal tool at hand, but Dr. Pucheu-Haston points out that you need to be careful not to pinch the dog’s skin. The TickEase Tick Removal Tweezer Tool is a doggy version of the typical tweezer and might be a better choice.
If you’re looking for a tool that removes the entire tick without pulling or force, try the Sentry Tick Remover Tool, which does the work for you. All you have to do is press a button to clamp down on a tick, and the Sentry tool will pull it out as you release the button.
Tip #6: Dispose of Ticks Properly
To make sure the tick you just removed is dead, Dr. Werber suggests squishing it until you hear a pop. “I know it sounds gross, but you want to be sure,” Dr. Werber says. “If you suspect or are concerned about the tick carrying a type of disease, put it in a small container with some rubbing alcohol and take it to your veterinarian.”
If you’re sure the tick is dead, Dr. Werber suggests just flushing it down the toilet. Otherwise, you can kill them by dropping them into a jar of alcohol or insecticide. “You may want to keep a small jar or bottle filled with alcohol nearby to deposit the ticks into,” Dr. Pucheu-Haston says.
Diana Bocco is a full-time writer and adventurer who has written for National Geographic, DiscoveryChannel.com, Yahoo! and Marie Claire. Diana has lived in five countries and taken her rescued dogs along to each one of them.