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How Do I Remove a Tick on a Dog?

Dog Care
6 minutes read
If you have an outside dog, or a dog who enjoys being outside, chances are they may receive a tick. They can be difficult to remove, but more trouble if you don’t.
Expert reviewed by:  
Written by:
Susana Bradford
Published on:  
September 7, 2022
Updated on:  
September 7, 2022

Removing a tick from your dog may not be the most pleasant task, but it is essential for your emotional support animal's health. Tick bites can cause tick paralysis, which can be fatal if not treated immediately.

To remove a tick from a dog, owners must loosen the parasite's grip on the animal's skin. One of the most common methods is applying hot water to the tick. Removing the insect without reducing its bite can lead to infections on the dog's skin. 

Once the tick has released its teeth from the dog's skin, owners should carefully pull the tick out, taking care not to leave its head behind. Once the tick is out, kill it and immediately disinfect the dog's skin. 

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removing tick from dogs

What Do I Need to Remove a Tick From My Dog?

Ticks can be tricky to remove because they stick their mouth deep into your pet's skin and can hold one thanks to their sharp, fang-like, hookish teeth. Removing them can be a daunting task, and there are some essential items you will need. 

Here's what you'll need:

Protective Gear

Experts recommend that dog owners wear protective gloves when removing ticks from their pets. This prevents infectious diseases from transmitting from the tick to the owner's system. 

Owners should also avoid direct contact with the tick as much as possible. Tweezers and droppers, for example, can significantly reduce the risk of infection for the dog and its owners.

Keep your Dog Calm

When removing a tick from a dog with ESA certification, make sure the dog is calm. Leaving some parts of the tick attached to the dog is dangerous and causes infections. 

You can calm your dog by massaging or rubbing it. Alternatively, you could use treats to distract it from moving around during removal. Also, getting the help of a friend or family member to keep your dog calm can aid in this procedure. 

Hot Water or Rubbing Alcohol

Ticks' teeth dig deep into the dogs' skin when they feed, and their curved shape makes it challenging to pull the parasites out. Immobilizing a tick on a dog will help loosen its grip on the skin, making tick removal much more accessible. 

Many experts advise dipping a cotton ball in hot water and applying it to the tick. The discomfort will often cause the tick to unhook its teeth from the dog's skin. 

If hot water is unavailable, dabbing alcohol through a cotton ball or applying it directly onto the tick with a dropper may suffice.

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Tweezers

After stunning the tick, owners should test whether or not the tick has released its bite. Pet owners should clamp tweezers to the tick's head as close as possible and give it a light twist. If it feels like the tick moves, it has likely unhooked its teeth. 

Owners should then pull the tick out slowly and steadily to avoid leaving the tick's head behind. Owners should also avoid bursting the tick on a dog, as the blood can poison the pet.

Dental Floss

You could remove the tick by wrapping about six inches of dental floss around it. Your goal is to loop the dental floss around the parasite's mouthpart, close to the skin.

You can also use a straw to make the looping process easier. Tie a knot around the straw, then use the ends to pull the tick off the dog. 

Credit Card

You could also make a 'V' with your credit card and use it to nudge the tick out of the dog's skin. Slide the card under the tick's belly, aligning the 'V' with the tick's head. Carefully try edging the tick's head away from your dog's skin with the card.

Avoid forcefully ripping the tick, as this could leave the head attached to your ESA dog.

Hot Needle

A hot needle is an effective strategy since it causes discomfort to the tick. By placing a heated needle on top of the tick, particularly its head, the tick is likely to detach its hooks from your dog. 

This method is risky because the heat could kill the tick, leading to further infections. Ticks may also release more saliva in response to the heat, which could infect your dog. 

Opt for this method as a last resort, as it could equally injure your dog and dispel the tick.

Olive Oil

Soak a cotton ball in olive oil and place it on the tick for 10 minutes. This will cause the tick to suffocate and fall off your pet.

Soap

Dip a cotton ball in liquid soap and hold it over the tick's head for about ten minutes. This is a handy tip because most people already have these things at home.

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What Should I Do After Removing Ticks From My Dog?

Keep track of the date of tick removal and keep an eye on your ESA dog for any symptoms. Consult a veterinarian if your pet displays any symptoms: arthritis, swollen joints, fever, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, loss of appetite, or neurological issues.

  • Toss the tick into a small jar of hot water or isopropyl alcohol or incinerate it. 
  • Examine the dog's skin for any tick pieces that may have been left behind and remove them. 
  • Apply antiseptic to your pet's wound and clean your tweezers using isopropyl alcohol.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly 

Does Washing Your Dog Help to Remove Ticks?

Washing your dog using flea and tick shampoo kills parasites on your animal's skin. Ensure that your vet approves the shampoo, as some shampoos can affect your dog's fur. 

Carefully read the shampoo's instructions. In most cases, it's best to wet your dog's fur before applying shampoo. Scrub your dog's fur and leave the shampoo on the fur for a few minutes to work its magic. Be careful not to get shampoo in their eyes or ears.  

Shampoo your dog at least once a week to prevent parasite bites in the future.

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How To Prevent Ticks in the Future?

Tick bites and their diseases they carry can be highly dangerous for dogs. Here are a few tips to ensure that your emotional support is tick-free:

Regularly Check for Ticks

Dogs risk picking up ticks every time they go outside. Always check your dog for ticks if your ESA dog spends long periods outdoors.

Maintain Good Hygiene

Regularly care for your dog's fur by cleaning it and brushing it with a flea comb. 

Keep the House and Dog Bedding Clean

If your dog sleeps on blankets and sheets, ensure they are clean and disinfected. Regularly vacuum any furniture and carpets if your pet spends time indoors, as these items harbor tick larvae.

Use Tick Sprays

Spray your yard with flea and tick sprays to kill ticks or larvae in your compound.

Tick checks should be part of your daily routine, especially if your dog spends a lot of time outside. If you have an ESA letter for your dog, speak with your veterinarian about

  • The most effective tick prevention practices or products for your emotional support animal
  • Tickborne diseases that are prevalent in your region.

For more information on pet care and other helpful resources, visit Pettable's blog.

Meet the author:
Susana Bradford

Susana is an avid animal lover and has been around animals her entire life, and has volunteered at several different animal shelters in Southern California. She has a loving family at home that consists of her husband, son, two dogs, and one cat. She enjoys trying new Italian recipes, playing piano, making pottery, and outdoor hiking with her family and dogs in her spare time.