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How Do I Treat a Tick Bite on a Dog?

Dog Care
2 minute read
The best way to treat a tick bite on a dog is to first gently remove the tick and then wash the area around the bite with...
Expert reviewed by:  
Written by:
Susana Bradford
Published on:  
March 15, 2023

Tick bites can not only be painful for dogs but can transmit disease and infection. It is important to use tick prevention medication on dogs and to check them regularly for ticks. If you find a tick bite on a dog, it should be treated right away to lessen the chance of disease or infection. The tick should be removed and the area washed and treated with an antibiotic. The dog should be monitored for any signs of infection or adverse reaction.

Ticks are usually not easy to see at first, especially if the dog has long or dark hair. Once the insect starts to feed, though, it will become enlarged and should be easier to spot. Even if the dog has a thick coat, if you run your hands gently through the fur, you should be able to feel the tick, like a small lump or pimple on the dog’s skin.

The first thing you need to do is remove the tick. Wearing latex gloves, grab the tick as close to the head as possible with a tweezers or tick removal tool. Slowly but firmly pull the tick upward, being careful not to twist it. If you twist or pull too hard and fast, the the head might come off and remain embedded in the skin. If this happens, it is important that the head be removed as soon as possible to avoid the risk of infection. With a calm dog, you might be able to remove the head using a small pin the same way you might remove a splinter.

Once the tick is removed, the areas around the tick bite on a dog should be washed gently but thoroughly with warm, soapy water. If the dog’s fur is thick or long, for maximum benefit, it might be necessary to trim the area around the bite before washing. After the area of the bite is washed and dried, it should be treated with a mild antiseptic cream to reduce the chance of infection. For the dog’s comfort, you might also apply a dab of hydrocortisone cream to ease any residual itching.

The area where you found the tick bite on a dog should be observed for the next few days. If the area of becomes swollen or if a rash appears, it could be a sign of infection. Should this occur, continue to wash the area of the bite and apply antibiotic cream at least once a day. If the signs of infection persist for more than three days or get worse, you should seek the advice of a veterinarian. Also, after finding a tick bite on a dog, if the dog should become lethargic or appear to be in pain, you should seek immediate veterinary attention because these could be signs of a disease or serious infection. Today, pet insurance is a great source for common (and not so common) treatments for your dog when they get sick. If you're concerned about your dog's health, pet insurance can help cover diagnostics, procedures, and medication when you need it most.

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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.