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Published: Feb 26, 2024 7 min read

Ticks are small arachnids found all over the U.S. They bite humans and animals to feed on blood. Additionally, they can spread tick-borne illnesses that pose a danger to their host.

It’s common for dogs to get tick bites, so it’s essential to check your dog regularly, especially after they’ve been outside.

Keep reading to learn how to safely remove a tick from your dog, plus how to prevent tick infestations and illnesses in the first place.

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How to safely remove a tick from a dog

You can safely remove a tick from your dog at home. However, if you aren’t comfortable doing so, you can take your dog to the vet.

You will need the following supplies for tick removal:

  • Gloves
  • Tweezers or tick removal tool
  • Isopropyl alcohol (or other disinfectant)

Once you have your supplies, you can go through the following steps.

1. Identify a tick on your dog

Ticks can be difficult to find on your dog, especially if they have long hair. Scan your dog’s body by running your fingers through their hair along their skin. Feel for any small bumps and part your dog’s fur to examine anything suspicious. Ticks can be tiny. Make sure it’s a tick and not something else, like a skin tag.

Ticks can be found anywhere on your dog’s body, but some of the most common areas are on your dog’s feet, legs, armpits, face, head, ears and neck.

2. Safely remove the tick

Once you’ve found a tick, removing it as soon as possible is important. The proper way to remove it depends on the tools you use.

How to remove a tick with tweezers:

  • Put gloves on.
  • Disinfect your tweezers.
  • Grasp the head of the tick with the tweezers. This is the part of the tick closest to your pet’s skin, so be careful not to pinch them. Also, don’t pull from the tick’s body because that can risk detaching the body from its head.
  • Gently and slowly, pull the tick out of your dog’s skin with steady motion.

How to remove a tick with a tick removal tool:

  • Put gloves on.
  • Disinfect your tool.
  • Follow the instructions on the tool’s package. Typically, you must first slide the notched end of the tick remover along your dog’s skin to position the tick between the notches.
  • Gently and steadily, pull outward to dislodge the tick.

Check the tick once you remove it from your dog’s skin. Ensure it’s fully intact, including its mouthparts and body.

Watching tick removal videos can be helpful to ensure you do it properly.

3. Kill the tick and dispose of it

Once you’ve removed it, you must kill the tick and dispose of it properly so it doesn’t bite you or your dog again. You can flush the tick down the toilet.

If you want your veterinarian to test the tick for diseases, you can save it in a closed container and bring it to the animal hospital.

4. Clean up

Once you’re done, wash your hands, clean your dog’s skin with an antiseptic and disinfect your tweezers or tick removal tool with rubbing alcohol.

5. Watch your dog for signs of illness

If your dog develops an illness from a tick bite, they should be treated early. Luckily, the best pet insurance companies often cover treatment for tick-borne diseases.

Take your dog to the vet if you notice anything unusual, including the following signs of infection. Keep in mind that symptoms can take weeks to months after the tick bite to show up.

  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Lameness
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Swollen limbs
  • Seizures
  • Depression
  • Weight loss or poor appetite
  • Nose bleeds

Why are ticks dangerous for my dog?

Ticks are external parasites that can carry dangerous bacteria. When they bite humans, dogs or other animals, they attach themselves to their host’s skin to consume their blood. In doing this, ticks can transmit diseases to their host and cause infections.

While symptoms can vary, diseases caused by ticks can be severe and even fatal to dogs in extreme cases.

Ticks can cause the following illnesses:

  • Lyme Disease
  • Canine Ehrlichiosis
  • Anaplasma
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
  • Babesiosis
  • Bartonella
  • Hepatozoonosis

The types of ticks that can cause the above diseases include the black-legged tick, deer tick, brown dog tick, lone star tick, American dog tick and Rocky Mountain wood tick.

How do I prevent my dog from getting ticks?

You can help prevent your dog from tick infestations with a prevention product. Not only does this keep your dog safe, but it also prevents the spread of these parasites in your home and among your family and other pets.

Discuss your dog’s risk with your veterinarian. They may recommend year-round prevention, depending on where you live. Additionally, it’s important to know that all prevention products differ in what they cover — some cover a combination of fleas, ticks, mosquitos, heartworms and more.

Here are the common tick prevention options for dogs:

  • Topical flea & tick protection: Frontline, K9 Advantix II, Vectra 3D, Onguard
  • Oral flea & tick protection: Simparica Trio, Bravecto, NexGard, Credelio
  • Flea & tick collars: Seresto

Fortunately, some of the best pet wellness plans include flea and tick preventative coverage.

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How to remove a tick from a dog FAQs

What will draw a tick out of a dog?

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The best way to remove a tick from a dog is to use tweezers or a tick remover. It’s not recommended to use other methods to draw a tick out of a dog’s skin, such as Vaseline, alcohol or heat. These methods can cause the tick to vomit bacteria, thus increasing the risk of an infection. If you cannot safely remove the tick at home, call your vet to schedule an appointment.

What kills ticks on dogs instantly?

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Many flea and tick protection products are designed to kill a tick once it bites your dog. They effectively prevent the spread of tick-borne diseases. The best way to kill a tick instantly is to remove it yourself once you notice it.

Will rubbing alcohol remove a tick from a dog?

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It’s not recommended to use rubbing alcohol to remove a tick from a dog. This is because rubbing alcohol can cause the tick to vomit and dispel bacteria in your dog’s body before it’s dislodged. The most effective way to remove the tick is using tweezers or a tick removal tool to gently dislodge the tick’s mouth from your dog’s skin.

Should you remove a tick from your dog yourself?

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You can safely remove a tick from your dog at home with tweezers or a special tick removal tool. However, you can take your dog to the vet if you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself.

Summary of Money’s guide on how to remove a tick from a dog

You can safely remove a tick from your dog at home using tweezers or a tick removal tool. Use the following steps:

1. Check your dog’s skin regularly, especially after going outside. If you notice a small bump, examine the area to identify if it’s a tick.

2. Safely remove the tick with tweezers or a tick removal tool. When using tweezers, grasp the tick at its head and steadily pull the bug out of your dog’s skin. If you’re using a removal tool, follow the instructions on the package, as tool design can vary.

3. Kill the tick and dispose of it.

4. Wash your hands, clean your dog’s skin and disinfect your tweezers or tool.

5. Monitor your dog for signs of a tick-borne illness.

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