Most dogs get a tick on their bodies at least once in their lives. If your dog spends time outdoors, even in the backyard, then it’s possible she may end up with a tick buried up under skin at some point. And if you take your dog on a lot of adventures hiking or exploring in the wilderness, the chance increases by quite a lot.
When your dog gets a tick, it’s important to recognize how to remove it safely to ensure the health of your dog. Read through the steps below so you can learn more about removing ticks from your dog safely, efficiently, and effectively.
Have Help if Possible
Ask a capable adult or older teen member of the family to help you with the tick removal. It’s best not to ask a child, as they may not be able to sit still well enough to keep your dog calm, and they may be too bothered by (or interested in) the tick itself to prevent distractions.
With help, you can focus on the removal of the tick itself while the other person soothes and holds down the dog. Some dogs may panic at the sensation of having a tick pulled off their skin and may need a little extra assistance in staying calm throughout.
Get all your supplies together before you begin. You won’t need much, but you will need a good, sturdy pair of tweezers. It’s best to use the sharper style of tweezers than the dull or blunt ones, but you can safely remove a tick with blunt tweezers if you’re patient in the process.
You will also need to gather some cotton balls and some rubbing alcohol. You might also want to get some dog treats to have on hand, especially if your dog will need to be calmed down during the tick removal process.
Use the tweezers to grasp the tick’s body, then pull straight up. Don’t pull at an angle at all, as this may cause the tick’s body to break off and leave the mouthparts still buried up under the skin. Pulling straight up significantly reduces this risk.
It may take a few tries for you to get hold of the tick with your tweezers, especially if it is already burying itself further under your dog’s skin. Take your time, be patient, and remember to remain calm. Ticks are scary and unpleasant, but you will be able to remove it just fine.
Clean the Bite and Wash Up
Use alcohol on a clean cotton ball to clean and disinfect the bite area. You may want to repeat this step a couple more times over the next day or two just to be sure the bite doesn’t get infected.
Use alcohol to clean the tweezers and any other items you might have used while removing the tick. Don’t forget to wash your hands thoroughly, too, so you can prevent the spread of tickborne diseases to yourself or other members of your family. Cleaning up after tick removal is just as important as the timely removal of the tick.
Don’t Use your Fingers
Using your fingers is not an effective way to remove a tick, and you should only do this if the tick is on your dog’s fur and hasn’t even started to bury up underneath the skin yet. A buried tick should only be removed with tweezers or tick removal sticks.
When you use your fingers, you risk breaking off the tick’s “head” (just its mouth) and leaving it in your dog’s skin. You also risk squeezing the tick and causing more saliva to enter your dog’s body, which increases the risk of tickborne disease by quite a lot.
Don’t Use Fire
You’ve probably heard the myth that you can burn a tick off by using a lighter. This isn’t a good idea for dogs, and it’s not a good idea for humans either!
Fire doesn’t usually cause a tick to let go of the skin. It can also sometimes cause the tick to release more saliva, which increases the risk of disease. And when it comes to dogs, using a lighter next to your dog’s skin is not safe at all.
Call Your Vet with Concerns About Removing a Tick
With the help of this information, you should be prepared to get ticks off your dog if the time comes. If you notice any problems surrounding a tick bite, make sure to take your dog to your Birch Lake Animal Hospital veterinarian right away for a thorough examination.
Remember, too, that you should have your dog vaccinated against Lyme disease. Lyme disease can be deadly to dogs, and even if it is not fatal, it can cause lifelong health problems that may be avoided with the vaccination.
About Birch Lake Animal Hospital
The staff at Birch Lake Animal Hospital seeks to provide the best possible medical care for our highly-valued patients and clients.