Techniques for Tick Removal from Dogs

It is challenging to prevent your dog’s exposure to ticks. Ticks can attach to your dog when they go with you on walks, hikes, or during any outdoor activities.

Ticks attach to your dog by inserting their mouthparts into your dog’s skin. Many ticks also produce a sticky, gluelike substance that helps them to remain attached. After attaching to your dog, ticks begin feeding on your dog’s blood. The places where ticks attach can become red and irritated, and many times the ticks carry diseases.

There are many ways to prevent ticks from attaching to your dog, but what do you do when a tick is already on your dog?

Tools to remove a tick

Given tick sizes and the places on your dog’s body where these parasites can latch, it’s helpful to have a few different types of tools so that you’re prepared for speedy tick removal.

Tick Key

There’s a nifty little tick scoop — it looks like a very tiny ice cream scoop with a slit in it. Works great. Lots of veterinarians have them to sell or give away with their hospital name on.

Your fingers

If taking a tick off with your fingers (also not difficult), it’s a good idea, if possible, to wash your hands. Take your thumb and forefinger down around the tick as close to the skin as you possibly can.  Then slowly pull. Spread the dog’s hair around it to get a good look and grip.

Hemostats and tweezers

I like to use a hemostat. It’s easier to get a grip without squeezing the tick.

If you don’t have a hemostat, pointed tweezers, fine-tipped style, are very effective for tick removal. However, the sharp ends might pinch your dog, particularly if the tick is small. Metal tweezers are easy to use on ticks of all sizes and can be sterilized by soaking in rubbing alcohol once the job is complete.

Techniques to remove a tick

No matter what type of tool you select for tick removal, the steps for how to pull a tick out remain pretty much the same. Keeping your dog calm during the process is important since motion will make the job more challenging for both parties. You might find giving your dog a peanut butter-filled toy to keep him occupied helpful, especially if the tick is in a difficult location.

Do NOT put mineral oil on it, nail polish, alcohol, or a just-put-out match. This causes the tick to regurgitate its stomach contents back into the dog—something you DO NOT want to happen.

The best way to remove a tick is to spread the hair around it to get a good look and grip. Take your thumb and forefinger down around the tick as close to the skin as you possibly can. Squeeze downwards and inwards, trying to take the mouth of the tick out of the dog. Do NOT squeeze the full tick. Squeeze low enough so that you are squeezing the unengorged part of the tick. Pull slowly upwards. It’s OK to take a little of the dog’s hair and skin. This means you got everything.

This should bring all of the tick out. But if you leave the mouth, don’t worry about it. This is not the part of the tick with the horrid contents, and in worst cases, the dog develops a little irritation like having a small splinter.  It will come out as your dog tries to rid himself of the mouthparts.

Be sure to kill the removed part of the tick by dropping it in alcohol before disposal.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to ticks and fleas, prevention is much easier (and better for your dog) than trying to remove an engorged tick.

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