In Part 1 of our Dog Owner’s Guide to Ticks we talked about why ticks pose a danger to dogs, the different types of ticks, and where ticks live. Part 2 outlined ways to protect your dog against ticks and Part 3 will explain what to do if you find ticks on your dog, including the proper way to remove a tick from a dog.
As I mentioned previously, we had a lovely hike the other day, followed by several hours of removing ticks from the dogs. Since Emi has short hair, the few ticks on her were easy to spot. In a matter of minutes she was clean and ready for more sunshine.
Luca on the other hand was a mess. Not only was his wet, long fur matted with burs, leaves and sticks but there were about 100 ticks buried in his fur that had to be carefully removed. Luckily he was dog tired and laid patiently still.
Here are some tips on how to safely remove ticks from your dog.
1. Don’t wait, the sooner you remove ticks the easier it will be and the less likely your dog will be to contract a disease from the tick.
2. Lay a light colored sheet out on the floor of your house, preferably a room without carpet. This will allow you to see any “escaping” ticks and to capture them before they start hiding in your carpet or traveling throughout the house.
3. Place your dog on the sheet and thoroughly check your dog for ticks by using a flea comb or slowly working your way through their fur with your hands. You’ll want to gently pull the hair back so you can see all the way down to the skin. Don’t be deceived by dogs with short hair, ticks can still hide under short hair and attach more quickly to the dog’s skin.
Check your dog from head to tail. Pay extra close attention around the head and chest and don’t forget to look inside the ears and between toes and paw pads. Remove the dog’s collar during the examine and check the collar for ticks as well.
4. You’ll need the following tools for safe tick removal:
- pointy tweezers
- jar partially filled with water (or rubbing alcohol) or a zipper style plastic bag
- cotton swabs or cotton balls
- apple cider vinegar
5. Grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible. Pull upward with steady, even pressure.
Don’t twist or jerk the tick, you want to avoid breaking off parts of the tick or crushing it while attached to the dog.
6. Place the tick in the jar or plastic bag, you can drown it in the jar or smother it in the bag but keep an eye on them to make sure they are dead. Ticks are hard to kill.
7. Clean the bite area using the apple cider vinegar and cotton swabs or cotton balls.
8. Watch the area for the next several weeks for signs of reaction or infection and notify your veterinarian if you notice anything unusual.