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How to Remove a Tick From a Dog (The Correct Way)

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To remove a tick from your dog you need tweezers, other tools, or a substance you can apply directly on a tick to kill it. Tick removal can be difficult at first. If you can’t handle removing ticks, it is better to pay a visit to the vet.

Ticks are active all year round but are more common in spring and autumn. They are very adaptable, and although they do not fly or jump, they climb on pets’ fur when they walk through the grass.

Tick control should be part of your daily routine if you like taking long walks in the woods with your dog or your pet spends a lot of time outside.

Removing a tick from a dog can be done at home or the vet’s office. You need a pair of tweezers or (at least) some rubbing alcohol.

In this article, you will learn how to remove a tick from your dog, how to use basic tweezers and tick tweezers, what not to use on a tick, and many more.

How to Remove a Tick From a Dog With Regular Tweezers?

You can use tweezers in many ways, one of which is to remove ticks. Using basic tweezers on a tick requires a little force and pressure. You have to pull up the tick, without twisting it.

Ticks are visible on the dog’s skin, especially as they grow after feeding. They are usually attached to the safer areas of the body, with thin skin, such as:

  • Under the armpit (subaxillary)
  • At the base of the ears
  • In the neck area
  • Between the skin folds
  • Between the toes

Ticks can also be detected by touch, as they have a hard body. Other signs of their presence are skin irritations and redness.

After walking your dog in the woods or parks, it is advisable to carefully inspect the dog’s body for early detection of ticks and their removal.

Steps for removing ticks with usual tweezers:

Step 1: Scan For Ticks

Feel your dog’s fur all over its body. Don’t limit your search to ticks’ favorite areas.

If you find a more swollen area to the touch, inspect it.

If it is a tick, split the hair in half to expose the tick and the dog’s skin.

Engorged Ticks Fall Off the dog

Step 2: Remove the Tick

Here is the equipment you need to remove a tick without any problems:

  • Gloves
  • Clean tweezers
  • Disinfectant or antiseptic

Do not try to remove the tick from your dog with unprotected hands. Always use gloves to avoid getting in contact with the tick’s insides.

Tick removing steps:

  • Grab the tick as close as possible to the skin, without pinching your dog
  • Slightly pull up, applying force and pressure to the skin until the tick comes off

If the tick’s mouthpiece is still attached to your dog’s skin, gently pull it out with tweezers or a sterile needle, or see the vet.

Engorged Ticks are Dangerous to Dogs

Step 3: Clean the Tick Bite and Dispose of the Tick

Put the tick in alcohol and write down the date you removed it – ticks die if they are soaked in acetone or alcohol[1]

  • Clean your dog’s tick bite with antiseptic and disinfect the tweezers with alcohol
  • Monitor the tick bite area for the next couple of days – for irritation or infection signs
  • You can also choose to send the tick to a lab for testing[2]

If your pet begins to show symptoms of tick-borne illness, see your veterinarian.

How to Remove Ticks From Dog’s Ear?

Although rare, ticks can also get into your dog’s ear canal[3]. Removing a tick from your dog’s ear can be difficult but not impossible. 

Here is what you need to do:

  • Locate the tick using a flashlight
  • Dilute rubbing alcohol with water
  • Dab a piece of cotton in it
  • Drain it – you don’t want alcohol inside your dog’s ear
  • Apply the cotton on the tick
  • Leave it there for a few minutes – the tick should come out by itself
  • Use tweezers to grab the tick and pull it off
  • Dispose of the tick

How to Remove a Tick From a Dog With Tick Tweezers?

Not everyone has tick tweezers or tick-removing tools, but dog owners that have them swear that they make their life easier. Using tick tweezers is easier than using regular ones. They have a special shape that facilitates tick removal.

There are several tick-removing tools on the market that vary in shape and size. Some are used for small ticks and dead dried ticks, while others for big, engorged ticks.

All tick-removing tools do the same thing: remove ticks.

Tick Key

You have to move this tool across the skin to pick up the tick instead of pulling it up. It is not sharp and is easy to use. It won’t cause your dog any pain.

It is not recommended to use it for:

  • Small ticks – it may pass over them
  • Narrow areas on the dog’s body (around the eyes or tail) – the tool is pretty large

Tick Scoop

This tool looks like a scoop and has a v-shaped notch. Once the tick is in the notch, you can remove it with a forward sliding motion.

It is not suited for small ticks.

Tick Twister

This tool looks like a garden hoe and is available in two sizes, for small and large ticks.

To remove a tick you have to:

  • Bring the tick twister closer to the pet’s skin near the tick
  • Slide the notch under the tick
  • Slightly twist and remove the tick

It is difficult to use this tool on dogs with long fur. It can tangle in the fur while you’re doing the twisting motion.

Metal Tick Tweezers

This is a set formed from tweezers and a notched tool. The tweezers have a long handle and are used like basic tweezers (for small ticks). The notched tool is used in a forward sliding motion for big ticks.

The sharp pointed end of the tweezers can hurt your dog if you accidentally poke it.

These tools help remove nymphs and adults with success and should be considered as viable alternatives to basic tweezers.[4]

How to Remove Dead Ticks From Dogs

How to Remove a Tick From a Dog Without Tweezers?

If tweezers are not at hand, you have other options for removing ticks, such as using rubbing alcohol or a heated needle. It’s essential to remove a tick safely and immediately.

Even though tweezers are the most commonly used tool for removing a tick, some alternative methods lead to the same result.

How to Remove a Tick From a Dog With Dental Floss or Thin Tread?

You can use one or the other to safely remove a tick.

  • Go to the skin as close as possible and wrap it around the tick’s mouthparts
  • Tighten the loop
  • Pull up firmly
  • Make sure the mouthpiece didn’t remain attached to the skin
  • Dispose of the tick

How to Remove a Tick From a Dog With Rubbing Alcohol?

This is another safe method to remove a tick:

  • Soak a piece of cotton in rubbing alcohol
  • Cover up the tick
  • Let it sit for a moment
  • The tick should detach
  • Dispose of the tick

How to Remove a Tick From a Dog With Dish Soap or Hand Soap?

This method is controversial. Some people claim that using soap on a tick won’t make the tick detach[5] but is worth giving it a try. In the worst-case scenario, the tick won’t come out on its own. Nothing happens to your dog.

It is preferred to use soaps with natural ingredients, but dish soap can work too. The steps are the same ones for using rubbing alcohol, only that you will use soap.

How to Remove a Tick From a Dog With a Heated Sewing Needle?

Heat a sewing needle and put it on the tick. The heat makes the tick detach. If the tick doesn’t fully detach, use the needle to take out its mouthpiece.

What Not to Use to Remove a Tick From a Dog?

Do not try to remove a tick with acetone, nail polish, or other products you find around the house. If you don’t have any of the products mentioned above, do not try to experiment with other products.

Using other products than the ones recommended can harm your pet and make the tick burrow itself deeply into the skin.

Do not try to remove a tick with:

  • Acetone
  • Matches, cigarettes, or lighters
  • Nail polish
  • Vaseline or petroleum jelly

FAQs

Does Vinegar Kill Ticks on Dogs?

Although ticks can be killed with acidic solutions, using vinegar for ticks on your dog is not recommended. Due to the stinging smell, vinegar will make your dog restless without causing the tick to detach.

Does Vaseline Kill Ticks on Dogs?

Applying Vaseline on a tick on your dog is not a good idea. The Vaseline will make the tick slippery and difficult to remove, without making it detach.

Does Tick Removal Hurt Dogs?

Yes, tick removal does hurt. Ticks firmly attach to your dog by inserting their feeding tube deeply into the skin. Some species of ticks have hook-like barbs on their feeding tube and others secret a cement-like substance.

About Iulia Mihai (DVM)

Dr. Iulia is a certified veterinarian with more than 10 years of experience in the field. With extensive knowledge of diet, care, and medication, she helps Misfit Animals provide readers with accurate knowledge on technical topics.

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