Web Only Article December 14, 2017

How to Get a Tick Off Your Dog

Finding ticks on your dog shouldn't be cause for immediate panic, but you do need to remove them as soon as possible. With the use of a simple tick removal tool, you can pop those suckers right off your dog, barbed mouth-parts and all.

Did you find a tick on your dog? Not sure how to get it off? Whole Dog Journal can help.

Removing ticks from a dog is not difficult. Getting a good grip on the tick, from the tip of its head - as close to your dog's skin as possible - is the most important step. Special tick removal tools like Nancy Kerns' favorite, the Pro-Tick Remedy, are designed to wedge the tick securely and lever it by the mouth out of its victim's skin, keeping the tick's drill-like hypostome intact.

pro-tick remedy

The Pro-Tick Remedy: Nancy Kern's favorite tick removal tool.

If you remove a tick incompletely, where its body comes off but the head stays in, your dog is still at risk for tick-borne illness. That's why a simple wedge-style tick removal tool is worth buying. WDJ recomends finding one like the Pro-Tick Remedy or the Tick Key: made of tempered steel or aluminum rather than bulky plastic, and following a simple wedge design. Smaller tick removal tools give you more control; we find bigger ones tend to get in the way.

If your dog has a tick right now, don't wait to remove it. Fine-tipped tweezers work just fine for removing ticks - you just need to make sure you grip the tick from its mouth and pull directly upward, slow and steady (no ripping, twisting, or jerking!). 

Ticks are a problem for dogs across the United States, but if you and your dogs live in the northeast portion of the country, ticks pose an especially frightening risk. No, Lyme Disease is not the only foul bacteria ticks carry and transmit, and different tick species carry different diseases.

However, no tick discriminates dogs when it's time to fill up on warm mammal blood. Lyme disease is certainly the most common tick-borne illness affecting dogs. But dogs are also susceptible to Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis - all transmitted through ticks and quite dangerous to dogs and humans alike.

Once you have removed the tick from your dog's skin, be sure to cleanse the bite area with warm water and iodine. And do a once-over for any more.

dog tick removal

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If your dog has been bit by a tick, he doesn't necessarily have a tick-borne disease, but you do still want to pay close attention to his health and behavior over the next few weeks. If you know for sure the tick has been attached to your dog for less than 24 hours, it is unlikely the dog is infected with anything. Still, pay attention and know the tick risks in your area. Thorough, frequent tick checks (read: everyday in the spring and summer) are your best defense against these blood-sucking parasites.

Tick Disease Testing

There are many diagnostic labs that offer disease testing for ticks. According to Lyme Disease Association, Inc., these services usually cost money and are often not very regulated. If it would make you feel better to know what bacteria your offending tick is carrying, there is no harm in saving it, paying the fee, and mailing it to a center. Just remember that your dog did not necessarily catch whatever that tick carries, and that there is lots of room for error in tick tests.

How do you dispose of a tick if you're not having it tested? Drown it in alcohol or soap, burn it with a match, smother it with diatomaceous earth - whatever you do, don't pinch it with your fingers. And keep in mind: an engorged dog tick WILL splatter if popped. Suffocation really is the safest, most efficient method.

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