Safe Tick Removal

August 21, 2016

If your dog likes to spend time outdoors, it is important to routinely check him for ticks. While tick repellants do help, they are not perfect. You should check your dog by running your fingers over his entire body, between his toes, under his armpits, in his ears, and around his face and chin. If you feel a bump or swelling, check to see if a tick has burrowed there. Pathogen transmission can occur as quickly as three to six hours after a bite, so the sooner you remove the tick, the less chance your dog has of getting sick.

More about ticks:
As important as it is to promptly and safely remove ticks, it is also important to be able to identify them. Note that ticks are arachnids, not insects. This means that they have eight legs and are related to spiders. Ticks can be black, brown, or tan. They differ in size and can be big, small, fat, or thin, so be sure to look closely. Remember that ticks have the potential to be active year-round, not just in the summer months. They dwell in all climates but thrive mostly in the woods, beach grass, lawns, forests, and urban areas. A tick’s body is all one piece, meaning they do not have conventional heads. The sharp hooks of the mouth are what attach to the host for feeding. A tick’s crab-like legs paired with a sticky secretion help the creature stay securely put on the host. There are about 200 different species of ticks in the United States alone. Our region (Georgia) is home to mostly the Brown Dog Tick, American Dog Tick, Deer Tick, and Lone Star Tick. The infections that ticks spread include Lyme disease, babesiosis, and ehrlichiosis.

If you find a tick on your dog, don’t worry! Tick removal can be quick and easy when following these steps:

First of all, make sure you have the right supplies. You’ll need a pair of gloves, fine-point tweezers (to avoid tearing the tick) or tick remover, antiseptic, and isopropyl alcohol. There are several different types of tick removers and hooks, so be sure to get one that’s easy to use for you and your dog.

To remove the tick from your dog with tweezers:
Grasp the tick as close to your dog’s skin as possible. Be gentle, trying not to pinch the skin
Pull outward in a straight, steady motion. Make sure you remove the entire tick, as anything left behind can cause an infection
Make sure not to squeeze or crush the tick, since its fluids may contain infectious material. After removing the tick, examine it to make sure the mouth parts were removed

To remove the tick from your dog with a tick remover:
Gently press the tick remover against your dog’s skin close to the tick
Slide the notch of the remover under the tick
Continue sliding the remover until the tick is caught in the small end of the notch and is pulled free
*** Some tick removers may require you to use a gentle twisting action; read and follow the instructions carefully that come with your tick remover

After you have removed the tick, praise your dog for a job well done and clean the area with antiseptic. Wash your hands and the tick remover/tweezers, as well. Keep an eye on the area where the tick was to make sure it doesn’t become infected. If it does, consult with your vet.

Note that ticks are not exclusive to dogs. They can be transferred from host to host. It is important to check yourself as well as all pets and family members after any outdoor activity in wooded, leafy, or grassy areas. Contrary to popular belief, ticks do not jump onto dogs and other hosts. They wait for a host to brush up against the area they are dwelling and then latch on. They also only breed while they are feeding, so hurry up with that removal!

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Resources: PetMD,,