We try our best to pretend that insects (and other crawlies) don’t exist. However, if you’ve been walking with your dog in nature, then it’s more of a “when” than “if” that your dog will be bitten by a tick.
When it comes to the health of our dogs, we can’t ignore ticks. As it were, removing a tick from a dog as soon as possible becomes key to their continued good health.
We also know that ticks are beyond gross, so we’ll teach you how to do it in a safe (and quick) way to prevent it from spreading infections to either you or your dog.
Keep on reading to learn all about ticks and what to do (and not do) when you’re removing a tick from your dog.
Ticks 101: What Are We Dealing With Here?
For all our terror when we see one, ticks are rather small arachnids with a one-piece body.
Yes, ticks are technically not insects. With their eight legs and Arachnida classification, they’re more closely related to spiders.
They have harpoon-like barbs in their mouths that are used to latch on their hosts to help them feed. In addition, ticks have crablike legs and release a sticky secretion to help them hold on to their host’s body.
Furthermore, ticks come in a variety of species. The United States has around 200 tick species. They can survive in almost any environment, from nature-based areas like forests, beach grass, and lawns, to city hubs and concrete jungles.
Add to that the fact that ticks aren’t picky eaters, and you have a stubborn insect that will survive and spread in any combination of habitat and potential hosts.
Why Are Ticks so Problematic?
The glaring issue with ticks is their inherent ability to carry around infectious organisms. Every year, ticks infect thousands of people and animals with nasty diseases like Lyme disease, babesiosis, and ehrlichiosis disease, to name a few.
In addition, the problem isn’t only with the types of diseases that can be transmitted to the bitten host, but also the speed of that transition.
Unfortunately, pathogen transmission can happen as quickly as three to six hours after a tick bite. This is why the sooner you remove a tick, the less chance that your dog will get infected.
Removing a Tick From a Dog: The Full Breakdown
Now that we’ve utterly terrified you about ticks and the nasty diseases they carry around, here’s how to remove a tick quickly and as painlessly as possible.
1. Use a Tick-Removal Tool
Having a tick-removal tool can make your life so much easier. However, if you don’t have one on hand, using a solid pair of tweezers or a curved hemostat would work just fine.
Bring your tool as close to the skin as possible to get a good grasp on the tick’s body. If you’re using a tick-removal tool, just follow the instructions available on the package.
If you’re using tweezers or hemostats, make sure to grab the tick’s head as close to your pet’s skin as you can manage. Then, pull straight back out with gentle and steady traction. Avoid any twisting motion for clean removal.
Now that the infernal thing is out, clean your pet’s skin where the tick was attached. You can use a gentle antiseptic scrub for the majority of your dog’s body areas, and iodine would be best if it’s in a hardy place on the body.
However, if the bite happened near your dog’s eyes or other sensitive areas, some warm soapy water will do the trick.
2. Keep the Tick on Hand
Or rather, in a tightly sealed jar or container. You can fill the jar with either rubbing alcohol or soapy water, then add the tick.
The reason why we’re asking you to keep the tick is to have it on hand for potential identification purposes in the future in case it becomes necessary. Or, god forbid, your dog gets sick.
As we said earlier, there are a variety of ticks out there. Different ticks transmit different diseases, even the tick’s developmental life stage (whether larva, nymph or adult) can impact the probability of infection and spread of diseases.
If you’re not seeing any concerning signs that your dog might be sick two to three weeks after the bite, you can throw the tick jar away.
3. Monitor Your Dog
You’ll need to keep a close eye on your dog for a period of two to three weeks after the tick removal.
Check out your dog’s skin around the bite area, as well as their general health. This can include their appetite, energy levels, limping, or any out-of-the-ordinary behavior.
If you happen to see anything concerning, then a trip to the vet can do wonders for your stress levels. This will also ensure that your dog is in prime health or initiate treatment if there is a problem.
How NOT to Remove Ticks
It’s great knowing how to remove ticks. Yet, it’s just as important to avoid the most common mistakes people make when removing ticks.
First, avoid squeezing the tick’s body when you’re trying to remove it from your dog, or when you’re handling it in general.
If you squeeze it too hard, it might cause “regurgitation” of any bacteria that the tick might be carrying. This means that you’re basically pushing all of the nasties in the tick’s gut directly into your dog’s bloodstream.
Second, don’t handle the tick with your bare hands. Avoid skin contact at any time with the tick, because they don’t just feed on dogs. They like snacking on humans too.
Healthy Living for You and Your Dog
We know it can be a terrifying notion to get up close and personal with ticks. But, your dog needs you to keep it healthy and happy.
Now, you have all the knowledge you need to aid you on your mission. Removing a tick from a dog can be a simple process, as long as you follow all the tips and tricks we discussed above.
Tick removal is a nasty business, so make sure you treat yourself with a nice vacation. You’d be surprised at the numerous health benefits of vacationing.
Also, we have a lot of health advice ready for you. Make sure to check out our health section for all the tips and tricks you need.