How To Remove a Tick From a Dog

Sara Bledsoe, DVM, CVA, CHPV
By Sara Bledsoe, DVM, CVA, CHPV. Reviewed by Veronica Higgs, DVM on May 31, 2023
border collie dog looking at a tick removal tool

After any time spent outside, it’s always a great idea to check your dog for ticks. In as little as 24 hours after attaching to your pup, ticks can transmit diseases—so it’s important to get rid of them ASAP.

Ticks like to hide on your dog, especially:

  • Around their face

  • Around their neck

  • Inside their ears

  • Under their legs

  • Between their toes

If you do find a tick on your dog, it’s important to know how to safely get the bloodsucker off. Follow this guide to learn how to remove a tick from a dog and dispose of it properly.

Key Takeaways

  • Ticks can transmit diseases to your dog within 24 hours of biting.
  • Always check your dog for ticks after they spend time outside.
  • If you remove the tick and the head is still embedded in your dog’s skin, do not try to dig it out.

Tools You’ll Need to Remove a Tick

To remove a tick safely, you’ll need these supplies:

  • Latex or rubber gloves

  • Extra lighting and a magnifying glass

  • Tweezers or a tick removal tool (such as the Tick Tornado)

  • Isopropyl alcohol

  • Jar or small container with a lid

  • Triple antibiotic ointment

  • Treats

Steps for Removing Ticks From Dogs

Use caution when trying to remove ticks that are attached near your dog's eyes, around their mouth, and inside their ears. If the tick is in an area that seems uncomfortable for your dog, don’t be afraid to call your veterinarian and ask for assistance.

Use the treats as distractions and rewards for your dog as you work to remove the tick.

Using Tweezers to Remove Ticks

If you are using tweezers to remove a tick, follow these steps:

  1. Grab the base of the tick as close to your dog’s skin as possible. Try not to pinch your dog! Also make sure you’re not squeezing the tick too tightly, as it may crush the tick and make it more difficult to remove.

  2. Slowly begin to pull the tick out from your dog’s skin in a steady motion. Do not twist or jerk your hand while pulling the tick out. The goal is to pull the tick’s head out of your dog’s skin while it is still attached to its body.

  3. Once the tick has been removed, examine it to make sure all body parts have been removed from your dog’s skin.

Using a Tick Removal Tool

If you’re using a tick removal tool—such as the Tick Tornado—follow these steps:

  1. Gently “hook” the body of the tick in the notch of the tool.

  2. Rotate the tool clockwise or counterclockwise until the tick detaches from the skin. Do not pull on the tick while it is still attached.

  3. Once the tick has detached, lift the tick away from the skin.

  4. Examine the tick to make sure all body parts have been removed from your dog’s skin.

What To Do if the Tick’s Head Gets Stuck in Your Dog’s Skin

If the tick’s head is still embedded in your dog’s skin after the body has been removed, there’s no need to panic. But do not try to dig the head of the tick out of your dog’s skin. This will cause more irritation and inflammation, and it will open the skin to infection.

Instead, take your dog to the veterinarian to remove any remaining embedded pieces of the tick.

Do not try to dig the head of the tick out of your dog’s skin. This will cause more irritation and inflammation, and it will open the skin to infection.

How to Kill a Tick

Once the tick has safely been removed, place it in a jar or small container that filled with isopropyl alcohol and seal the lid tightly. The isopropyl alcohol will kill the tick.

Many veterinarians recommend keeping the tick in the container in case your dog starts to show any signs of illness. Different types of ticks can carry different diseases, so having your veterinarian identify the tick may help with a diagnosis if your pet becomes sick.

Disinfecting the Skin

After disposing of the tick, you can tend to the tick bite area.

Gently clean the site of tick attachment with soap and water. Vetericyn Plus Antimicrobial Hydrogel spray can be applied to the area as well.

Continue to watch the area where the tick was attached. If you notice any redness or inflammation, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Preventing Tick Bites

The best way to prevent ticks from biting your dog is to keep your pets on flea and tick prevention year-round. There are very effective prescription products that provide great protection against fleas and ticks for weeks at a time.

There are also over-the-counter flea and tick prevention products, such as Frontline Plus or a Seresto collar. Always talk with your vet before giving your pet any tick prevention treatment—they can help you determine which is best for your dog.

Featured Image: iStock.com/happyborder


Sara Bledsoe, DVM, CVA, CHPV

WRITTEN BY

Sara Bledsoe, DVM, CVA, CHPV

Veterinarian

Dr. Sara Bledsoe graduated from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine in 2012 and completed her clinical year at Auburn University...


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