How to Check for and Remove Ticks

Checking for ticks

Check your dog for ticks every day, especially during tick season: spring, summer and fall, or year-round in warmer climates. Brush your fingers through their fur applying enough pressure to feel any small bumps. Be sure to check between your dog’s toes, behind ears, under armpits and around the tail and head, too. If you do feel a bump, pull the fur apart to see what’s there. A tick that has embedded itself in your dog will vary in size, something from the size of a pinhead to a grape depending on how long its been attached. Ticks are usually black or dark brown in color but will turn a grayish-white after feeding in what’s referred to as an engorged state.

Removing ticks

Removing embedded ticks is a delicate operation because it’s easy for a piece of the tick to break off and remain in your dog’s skin if done improperly. Follow the removal steps below or consider bringing your dog to a veterinarian who can safely perform the task and, possibly, show you how it’s done. Infection can occur after 24 hours, so if you find a tick on your dog, remove it right away. Always wear rubber gloves to protect yourself from possible injury or infection.

  1. Grasp the tick very close to the skin with a pair of fine-tipped tweezers.

  2. With a steady motion, pull the tick’s body away from the skin. Avoid crushing the tick to prevent infection.

  3. After removal, clean your dog’s skin with soap and warm water and dispose of the tick by placing it in alcohol or flushing it down the toilet.

Following these steps can help ensure the successful removal of ticks. Never use petroleum jelly, a hot match, nail polish or other products to remove a tick. Doing so can harm your dog and may cause an embedded tick to release more disease-carrying saliva. Also, if you do find ticks on your dog, your entire family could be at risk of exposure. You should take measures to keep everyone in your household safe.