Ticks are external parasites that feed on the blood of their hosts, namely on animals such as dogs. Tick bites in dogs are common in the summer months and often occur in woody and long grassy areas. Ticks will latch onto the dog and remain on its skin until it has finished feeding – which could last several days.
It’s crucial to remove a tick as soon as you notice one on your dog. This is because ticks are known to carry harmful diseases and can also cause tick paralysis. Leaving a tick to feed will increase the risk of your canine becoming infected and in rare cases, experiencing complications such as organ failure and even death.
Here are some steps to safely remove a tick from dogs and to ensure the safety of your pet over the tick season.
1. Assess your dog’s coat
Ticks are tiny parasites – about the size of a sesame seed. For this reason, searching your dog’s fur is the best way to know if there’s a tick hiding in there.
After every walk, closely examine your dog’s coat by raking your fingers through or by using a comb. Start at the nose and work your way down toward the tail, covering areas such as the ears, nape of the neck, and belly.
A tick or tick bite will feel like a small bump on the skin. Upon closer inspection, you will see a white or brown egg-shaped insect with legs like a spider.
2. Gather your tick removal tools
For easy tick removal, there are special tick-pullers available for purchase from most pet stores. These are tweezers designed specifically to remove ticks from pets. If you attempt to pull a tick straight off with your fingers you risk leaving the head and mouth feeding on the skin.
If you haven’t a pair of tick pullers, you can use everyday tweezers. You may also try a natural remedy to remove ticks.
3. Remove the tick
With gloves on, carefully part the hair to expose the tick. With your tweezers or tick removal tool:
Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Gently, without twisting or jerking, pull straight upwards in one slow and steady motion. You want to pull the tick out completely intact.
If the head or mouthparts are still attached to the skin, disinfect the area with alcohol and visit your vet for safe removal.
After removing the tick, disinfect the skin and dispose of the tick in a container. Keep the container in case you need to show it to your vet if your dog falls unwell.
4. Follow up
Supervise your pet for the next 24 hours and make note of any signs or symptoms of infection. This can include:
- Excessive itching
- Red, irritated skin around the bite site
- Loss of appetite
If you do notice your dog is unwell following a tick bite, take them to your local vet immediately for a full pet care check. Ticks pose a threat to all dogs, especially during tick season. Prevent harmful diseases and tick paralysis by knowing how to check your pet thoroughly – especially after walks in grassy areas – and by asking your vet for over-the-counter flea and tick prevention.
These medications can be taken orally and are generally given once every few months for year-round protection against harmful parasites. If you do suspect a tick, carefully remove it from your dog using special tick removal tweezers. This will give you a more accurate and safer removal. If you aren’t confident removing a tick by yourself, visit your vet and they will do so for you.