Parenting a pup comes with joys and challenges. No matter what, you want the best for your dog. So, having a good understanding of the threats that exist will help you be the best pet parent you can be.
Prepare yourself by learning:
- What to do if your dog has a tick
- How to remove a tick from your dog
- The dos and don’ts of safe tick removal
What to do if your dog has a tick
First, don't panic. The tick removal process can be overwhelming and finding creepy crawlers in your dog's fur isn't fun. But, it is possible to get rid of ticks on your dog in a few simple steps.
1. Identify the parasite.
One big threat for dogs, especially ones who love the great outdoors, is parasites. To keep your dog protected, knowing the difference between fleas and ticks is a good place to start.
Found year round in the United States, it's likely you'll run into a tick from time to time. You can find ticks in beach grass, wooded forests, and even urban areas.
There are a few types of ticks that you might encounter. Some examples include the American dog tick and the brown dog tick. Each species has its own distinct markings and characteristics. They can help you determine which tick you're dealing with. All ticks have eight legs and can transmit disease to your dog.
2. Look for signs of infection.
If you notice your dog scratching or biting a specific area on their body, they might be suffering from a tick bite. Observe the affected area for signs of tick bites such as:
- A bite wound
- Irritated skin or rash
3. Safely remove the tick.
If you find a tick attached to your dog you might wonder, how long do ticks stay on dogs? A tick stays attached during the feeding process, which can range from five to seven days.
The longer the tick feeds, the greater the chance of infection. Follow the steps below to safely remove ticks and avoid tick-borne diseases.
4. Watch your pet.
Tick-borne disease is never something a pet parent wants to deal with. Make sure you know the signs of tick-borne illness, like Lyme disease. Consult with a veterinarian if your dog begins to experience symptoms.
How to remove a tick from a dog
No matter how scary and gross it can be, safe tick removal is important. Removing a tick safely ensures your dog avoids tick-borne illness from leaving the tick's head behind in your dog's skin.
Here's how to remove a tick from your dog in 6 simple steps.
Start by prepping your dog, yourself, and the area around you. Put on protective gloves and find an open spot with good lighting. Be sure to clean the floor or table you set your dog on with alcohol. Gather your tools including a tick remover such as tweezers.
Removing ticks can be stressful for your dog. Have a helper gently hold your pup to keep them calm and comfort them with treats while you pull the tick from their skin.
Separate your dog's hair around the tick with a flea comb. Using tweezers or a tick removal tool, grasp the tick as close to your dog's skin as possible. Make sure your tweezers are sharp and don't have blunt tips. In a steady motion, gently pull the tick out with firm, upward pressure.
Do not make a twisting motion if you decide to remove the tick from your dog. Otherwise, you may only remove the body and leave the tick's head embedded in your dog's skin. This can cause disease, irritation, and infection.
After the tick detaches from your dog's body, place it in a small container with isopropyl alcohol. This will kill the tick but also help you preserve it in case your dog develops any symptoms after removal. Write the date and location of the tick bite on the top to share with your veterinarian.
Wash your hands with soap and water and clean the bite area with antiseptic soap. Be sure to disinfect your tweezers with a cotton ball and rubbing alcohol as well.
Scan your dog for more ticks or tick bites and repeat the process. Note: if you feel uncomfortable removing a tick from your dog, don't hesitate to call your veterinarian right away. It's better to ask for help than risk hurting your dog further.
Dos and don’ts of tick removal from a dog
When it comes to getting rid of ticks, there are a few strategies to avoid and some you should follow. Follow these dos and don'ts to remove ticks the right way.
Do check for ticks often.
If you spend lots of time outdoors, it's important to check your dog for ticks. Using your fingers, slowly scan your dog's body focusing on covered areas like their ears. Start at their head paying special attention to their eyes, ears, and under their collar. Move down their body exploring their armpits, groin, and tail.
Don't handle ticks with bare skin.
Ticks aren't picky when it comes to their hosts. They can bite and ticks can carry Lyme disease which they can pass to humans and dogs. When removing ticks always wear gloves. Clean your hands and disinfect the bite site and your tick removal tool before and after removing them.
Do use the right tools.
The best way to remove a tick from a dog is to start with the right tools. Here are a few items you might want to have on hand to successfully remove a tick.
- Protective gloves
- A clean, tick-removal tool (most household tweezers work great)
- A flea comb
- Disinfectant or antiseptic soap
- Isopropyl or rubbing alcohol
- Small container or jar
- Sharpie or pen
- A helper and treats
- This article
Don't try to suffocate the tick.
There are a few strategies that suggest encouraging the tick to back out of your dog’s skin on its own. Unfortunately, these methods can cause more problems than good.
4 ways you should not remove a tick:
- Touch it with a hot match
- Cover it with petroleum jelly
- Dab it with nail polish or alcohol
- Freeze it off
Oftentimes, the tick on your dog will cling on tighter and may cause more severe problems. Additionally, when ticks feel threatened they can salivate and release diseases they are carrying. This includes Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease which can be life-threatening to your pet.
Do save the tick.
Once you are able to effectively remove the tick, save it for future reference, don't dispose of the tick. If your dog starts to develop symptoms after the tick bite, having the tick on hand will be helpful. Your vet can use it to determine the type of tick, its life stage, and any pathogens it may carry.
Don’t jerk, squeeze, or twist the tick.
Tick removal requires a slow, steady hand. Be careful not to squeeze too tightly and crush the tick's body. Remember, ticks are infectious organisms.
If you don't pull upward you can leave behind the tick head or its mouth parts in your dog's skin. Or tick saliva that has disease-causing pathogens such as Lyme disease.
Do use tick preventatives.
The best tick prevention is avoiding them in the first place. Prevent ticks and the dangerous diseases they carry with a monthly flea and tick preventative. Wags Advance for Dogs is a great, topical tick prevention that also covers fleas and lice. Consult your vet if you aren't sure which solution is best for your dogs.
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