Warm weather means trips to the beach, going camping, and having fun with your furry friend. But it also means tick season is at its peak. Ticks carry all kinds of diseases that can harm you and your pet, so swift removal is key when it comes to these bloodsucking pests. But there’s no need to worry. You can learn how to remove a tick from a dog in 9 steps so you can get back to enjoying the great outdoors together.
1. Perform the search
First thing’s first: Find the tick. Whether your dog “told” you he has a tick (through frequent biting or scratching in the same area) or he’s been walking through tick-infested woods or grass, you’ll want to probe his skin for ticks.
Check your dog’s entire body (including his armpits, ears, and other hard-to-reach areas) for raised bumps and red skin. Ticks are eight-legged and tan, brown, or black in color. If your dog has long hair, use a hairdryer on low heat to look through the hair and identify any ticks.
2. Act fast
More than most pests, an infected tick can quickly wreak havoc on your pet’s health. It’s important to remove a tick from your pup within 24-36 hours of a bite in order to prevent disease transmission. This means that you should remove a tick as soon as you find it.
3. Stay relaxed
It’s important to stay calm as you gather the supplies to remove your pup’s tick. You’ll be asking your dog to sit still as you poke through his fur, so composure is key. Try giving your pet a treat as you search for and remove ticks, or recruit a friend/family member to help hold your pup still.
4. Put on gloves
Ticks can transmit diseases to humans, too, so protective gloves are important. Before you start touching a tick, put on a pair of latex gloves to reduce the likelihood of disease transmission.
5. Rub the tick
As strange as it may sound, one often-forgotten step in the tick removal process is rubbing the tick. Using a gloved finger, quickly rub the tick’s body in a circular motion for about a minute. Ticks often detach themselves during this process, allowing you to quickly catch the tick and dispose of it. Ticks that do not detach will need to be removed with tweezers.
NOTE: Do not attempt to detach the tick using fire, nail polish, petroleum jelly or any other alternative method. Doing so can be dangerous to your pet and is likely to embed the tick head in your dog’s skin.
6. Use tweezers
To remove a tick from your dog, grab a pair of fine-point tweezers (or a tick removal tool) and spread your pup’s fur. Bring the tweezers as close as possible to your dog’s skin and gently pull the tick out in a straight, upward movement. It’s important not to apply too much pressure here, as doing so may cause the tick’s head to break off and embed in the skin.
7. Dispose of the tick
The tick’s been removed, but you’re not done quite yet. When disposing of a tick, you have two options. First, you could kill the tick by flushing it down the toilet. Doing so ensures the pest won’t be back for any more of your dog’s (or your own!) blood. But this option also makes it impossible to test the tick for the disease.
If you’re concerned that the tick transmitted a disease to your pup, save the pest in a glass jar filled with rubbing alcohol. That way, veterinarians can test the tick if your dog starts displaying symptoms of the disease.
8. Disinfect, disinfect, disinfect
Finally, apply an antiseptic to your pup’s tick bite and your tweezers. Be gone, tick germs!
9. Next Steps
After successfully removing a tick, treat your dog and yourself to some quality time or a tasty snack. You did it! But you’ll still want to keep a close eye on your pup in the coming days and weeks.
If your dog seems fatigued, loses his appetite, or has a fever or swollen lymph nodes, schedule an appointment with your vet. Tick-spread illness can be serious, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your best furry friend.
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