tick being removed from dog's paw

You’ve just return from a grassy walk in the hills, and have found a dreaded lump in your dog’s coat.  While many make the mistake of thinking that washing the dogs coat will take care of the tick problem, the reality is, you’ve got to get involved and remove it yourself. Below is our step-by-step guide on the safest, cleanest way to remove a tick.

1. Get the right tools

  •         Gloves
  •         Sanitized tweezers
  •         Antiseptic
  •         Rubbing alcohol

Any pair of rubber gloves will do as long as it is tight to the skin, since ticks are quite small, and you will want your motions to be accurate. Wearing gloves is a necessary part of the procedure; to guard against physical contact with the tick, since they carry diseases.  The tweezers can be sterilized with antibacterial cleaning fluid or rubbing alcohol. Fill a plastic bag partially with the rubbing alcohol; this is where you will put the tick once it’s been extracted.

2. Remove the tick

If your dog is a larger breed, you may need to enlist the help of a nearby friend, that way your pup won’t wiggle and upset the removal process. Once you have him held firm, pull back the hair from the tick, and use the tweezers to clasp on to his body, as close to the base as possible.  Be careful not to pinch the tweezers too tightly, or pull back too suddenly, as you could run the risk of severing the head and leaving the mouth part (also called the hypostome) in the skin. Though this would not cause further infection, it will be much more difficult to remove. To extract the tick, pulling back steadily and slowly, in one continuous motion until the whole tick is removed.

3. Finish the Treatment

Once you have the full body of the tick, drop it into the plastic bag of alcohol.  This will kill it immediately, and will allow the specimen to be preserved in case a review is necessary.  This is particularly helpful if your dog starts showing signs of Lyme disease or infection, and the vet requires the tick for testing. After the tick has been disposed of into the bag, immediate wipe the bite wound with the antiseptic. Be sure to sterilize the tweezers thoroughly before storing them away.

Note: If you have removed the tick before it was able to latch on to your dog, still be sure to put the tick into the bag of alcohol. Throwing the tick away will not kill it, but allow for a chance to escape or lay eggs. Similarly, squishing the tick or trying to kill it by hand is unwise since it could secrete infected fluids/blood. Disposing of the tick in alcohol is the best way to guard against infection and disease.

4. Follow up

Keep an eye on the tick bite a while to see if any infection or irritation arises.  Your dog may also show signs of diseases passed by ticks, such as swollen joints, lameness and pain, fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, etc.   If there is anything out of the ordinary with your dog, be sure to go see a vet without delay.  For more notes on how to keep the ticks off your pup, refer to our post about How To Avoid Ticks!