How To Remove a Tick From a Dog

By Chelsea Hunt-Rivera / February 28, 2018
how to remove a tick from a dog

Ticks and fleas—two very troublesome bugs that seem to enjoy annoying our beloved dogs and cats. Yes, ticks may be small and seem harmless enough. But, that’s far from the truth! Ticks—though tiny, can harbor dangerous bacteria, that can cause all sorts of diseases in pets. So, in this article, we’ll cover all you need to know about how to remove a tick from a dog, breaking it down into a step-by-step process.

dog with ticks

How To Remove a Tick From A Dog: Why It’s Important

No one likes the idea of those creepy, crawly-bloodsuckers feasting on our body. Unfortunately, ticks are a common epidemic many pet owners will face—at least, once in their life. But, why in the world should we even remove ticks from our pets? The answer is simple—tick-borne diseases.

So, what are tick-borne diseases? Ticks are vectors for a range of diseasesso a tick-borne disease is any disease that may be transmitted to a human or animal via ticks. This means that if there are ticks residing on your pet, then they not only can cause disease in your dog—but, they can also expose you to tickborne zoonoses.

Tickborne Disease in Humans and Dogs

A study published in 2001 aimed to evaluate the various emerging tick-borne diseases prevalent in humans. The study found that ticks were responsible for spreading bacterial pathogens which resulted in the spread of diseases such as:

  • Lyme disease
  • Ehrlichia
  • Relapsing fever borreliosis
  • Q fever
  • Tularemia
  • Rickettsioses

In contrast, dogs are at risk of developing tickborne diseases such as:

  • Canine Anaplasmosis
  • Canine Babesiosis
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
  • Canine Bartonellosis
  • Canine Hepatozoonosis

What Does a Tick Look Like

what does a tick look like

So you’ve been petting your beloved pooch, stroking their ears and head—suddenly, you feel this unusual little bump that’s grazed up against the palm of your hands. A tick! Luckily, ticks are reasonably large enough to spot. Not to mention, they are more commonly found around your dog’s head, neck, and ear region.

Based on their age and species, ticks can be anywhere from 1mm to 1cm long. Like spiders, adult ticks will have about eight legs—so they may often look like little spiders crawling on your dog. However, ticks tend to have a round, egg-shaped body that can appear to be dark spots of blood once they have eaten.

Ticks Vs Fleas—What’s the Difference?

the difference between ticks and fleas

Believe it or not, both creepy bugs are quite different from one another. Fleas tend to fall under the insect category, while ticks tend to fall under the arachnids, so they’re a lot like spiders. Fleas are responsible for transmitting diseases and parasites such as bartonellosis and tapeworms. But, in contrast—ticks can bring even more diseases to the table! These guys are responsible for spreading conditions such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Wood Tick AKA American Dog Tick

If you’re Canadian or American, then be aware of the American Dog Ticks (also known as Wood Tick). These pesky bugs may be widely distributed across Canada, Saskatchewan, South Texas, and Florida. The Wood tick tends to have a reddish-brown appearance, where their back “shield” tends to have silver/gray markings.

The American dog tick is also significant to the veterinary world. This is because they are the main vectors that are responsible for causing the disease known as Rock Mountain spotted fever and Tularemia.

How To Remove a Tick From A Dog

When it comes to removing ticks from your dog, you first need to understand what you are looking for—and what tools you need to have in hand. Here, we will cover everything you need to know about how to remove a tick from a dog.

Tick Removal Tool

Removing ticks can be a troublesome task, particularly if you don’t have the right tools! So, we highly recommend that you try and find yourself a tick removal tool, such as tick tweezers, designed to remove ticks as carefully as possible.  You want to avoid pulling out ticks with your fingers as this can get quite tricky!

What You Need for Tick Removal

Before you get ready to remove that pesky tick, make sure you have the following items:

  • Fine point tweezers or alternatively you can look into purchasing tweezers specific to tick removalTickEase Tick Remover is a great choice!
  • Alcohol
  • Cotton ball
  • Sealed bag (plastic bag or container)
  • Rubbing Alcohol or Iodine

Tick Removal: Easy to Follow Steps

tick removal on dogs

  1.  First, locate the hot spot where those pesky bugs are residing (generally around your dog’s neck, ears, armpit, belly, or at the base of their tail).
  2. Make sure you place the alcohol in a small cup and have an empty plastic container ready.
  3. Next, part your pup’s hair evenly, exposing the tick that may be feasting on your pooch.
  4. Now, carefully place the tweezers on the body of the tick. You need to make sure your tweezers are as close to the skin as possible. This will ensure that when you pull—the tick’s mouthparts will not remain behind.
  5. Now comes the fun part! When you’ve properly secured the tick’s body with your tweezers, you need to gently pull the tweezers in an upwards motion. Do this as slowly as possible. Do not twist or pull the tweezers out fast.
  6. Next, dip the captured tick into the alchol—this will kill it. Once done, place the tick into the empty container and tightly tape the bag.
  7. In order to prevent any infection or bite irritation, we highly recommend that you clean your dog’s bite area with either iodine or rubbing alcohol.

Still unsure about how to properly pull out a tick? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Have a look at the video below to help you out with your tick removal.

4 Things You Need To Know About Ticks and Dogs

  1.  If you’re North American and live in areas that are wooded or shrubby, then you’re more likely to encounter the Wood tick as this is where they tend to thrive. Wood ticks are notoriously known to live on rats until they are able to infect their primary host—your dog!
  2.  There’s a lot of old-wives tales going around when it comes to tick removal. One of the most common tales out there is that people can use nail polish remover or petroleum jelly (vaseline) to remove ticks—this is not effective and will not work!
  3. If you’ve pulled out a tick, and have accidentally left behind the mouthparts of the tick embedded in your dog—then, don’t worry too much! Leave it and just monitor your pooch. Dogs have very resilient immune systems so they’ll be quite able to fight off any minor infection. 
  4.  There are many other methods you can use in order to get rid of ticks! You can choose to use spot-on treatments, shampoos, tick dips, tick collars, and oral medication as a treatment method against ticks.


tick free dog

Ticks Are Reservoirs For Dangerous Pathogenic Bacteria

It may not look like much when you see tiny ticks crawling on your dog. But, pet owners need to be aware that ticks can actually spread various diseases which can, if not treated, be fatal to pets. When it comes to pathogenic diseases spread by ticks, the ones to watch out for are Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a disease that can result in flu-like symptoms such as fevers, headaches, nausea, and vomiting. The disease is caused by a bacteria known as Rickettsia parkeri and it can affect both humans and pets! In contrast, people and pets with Lyme disease may develop symptoms such as rashes, fevers, and fatigue. If left untreated, Lyme disease can be potentially fatal to dogs.

 So, the takeaway message is this: not only can ticks spread diseases to your dog and cat, but they can spread those same diseases to you too!

Got a question about ticks or tick removal? Let us know in the comments below!


How can I spot a tick?

Can I just remove the tick with my fingers?

How are fleas and ticks similar?

Illustrations inspired by our furry friend Pancho!



About the author

Chelsea Hunt-Rivera

Chelsea Rivera is a Dedicated Pet Parent who loves to create amazing content for pet owners and is helping change pet wellness as the Head of Content for