How to Remove a Tick: What to do if Your Dog has a Tick

Pet care & safety

There’s no need to feel ashamed if you find one of those creepy critters on your pet. Despite doing your best to prevent tick bites and the spread of Lyme disease, ticks can find their way onto any dog who ventures into taller grasses or wooded areas. It’s part of being a dog. But part of being a conscientious pet parent is knowing how to remove a tick from a dog. 

I Found a Tick on My Dog, Should I be Worried?

If you find the tick and remove it right away, your dog is likely to avoid getting Lyme disease. It takes at least 12 hours for the tick to start transmitting the disease and it must remain attached for 48 hours before it can fully transmit the disease. So give your dog a daily rub down to check for ticks, paying special attention to the head, neck, feet, and ears (most dogs like this extra hands-on time) after a walk in a wooded or grassy area. 

What to do if Your Dog has a Tick: Removing the Tick Safely

Keeping alcohol, tweezers, and cotton balls in a mini tick-removal kit in your car or first aid kit can be quite handy. If you find a tick on your pet, don’t panic. Pulling it out sounds a lot grosser than it really is.

  • First, apply the alcohol to the area liberally.  If you hold a cotton ball soaked in alcohol on the tick it may actually detach on its own in a few minutes.

  • If it’s resisting, get the tweezers and place them as close as you possibly can to the skin, before slowly pulling upwards. Don’t twist or yank.

  • Once it’s out of the skin, kill it by placing it in alcohol (you can even keep it in alcohol to show your vet if you want to have it identified to find out if it’s one of the disease-transmitting kind) or flushing it down the toilet.

  • Now, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or alcohol.

  • Lastly, give your good dog a cookie for putting up with this annoyance.


How to Treat a Tick Bite on a Dog After Removal 

It’s important to continue monitoring the tick bite area even after the tick has been removed. If you notice any signs of infection or irritation, such as redness, swelling, or discharge, contact your vet immediately. Additionally, you should familiarize yourself with the types of ticks in your area, as well as the diseases they carry. By being aware of your local tick population, you can better protect your pet and yourself from possible tick-borne illnesses. 

Do I Need to Take My Dog to the Vet After a Tick Bite? 

Usually, there’s no need for a vet visit after a tick bite, but closely monitor your dog for Lyme disease signs like fever, lethargy, lameness, or swollen lymph nodes over several weeks or months. If symptoms occur, contact your vet; they can test for Borrelia bacteria causing Lyme disease, and retest in 4 weeks if needed. 

In case of positive test results, further tests and kidney function assessments may be done. Treatment with antibiotics might follow only if the dog is symptomatic. Pet insurance is a lifeline for pet owners facing unexpected vet bills, helping them to provide their furry friends with the care they need without breaking the bank. But remember, pet insurance will have a waiting period and exclusions for pre-existing conditions, so make sure you have your insurance in place before you need it! 

Tick Prevention is Better than Tick Removal 

Prevention is crucial; but it’s important to know that no tick prevention method is entirely foolproof. Nonetheless, utilizing tick prevention strategies such as oral medications, topical treatments, or tick collars can significantly minimize your dog’s chances of attracting ticks. There are a ton of choices, so consult your veterinarian to help you choose the most suitable option for your pet. 

Even the best tick repellents may not entirely protect against ticks, so you should still perform regular tick checks, especially after your dog has spent time in wooded or grassy areas. 

Wrapping Up Tick Bites: Prevention, Removal, and Monitoring for Your Dog’s Health 

Ticks can be a nuisance for both dogs and pet parents, but with the right knowledge and approach, they are a manageable concern. By staying informed about tick removal, monitoring your dog for signs of tick-borne illnesses, and implementing tick prevention strategies, you can minimize the risks and complications that ticks may present. Regular tick checks are essential in safeguarding your furry companion’s health, and proper awareness of tick habitats and behaviors can reduce the risk of tick-borne diseases. Embrace Pet insurance can give you peace of mind knowing that your furry best friend will always be covered for the care they need, no matter what. Whether it's an unexpected vet bill from a tick bite or a more serious illness, pet insurance can help you afford to give your pup the best possible care.