Ticks are notoriously difficult to remove once they’ve latched on to your dog. They can be removed safely – if you know what you’re doing.
Ticks are stubborn parasites commonly found in long grass and areas of bush. They latch on as your dog is passing by, and once they’ve attached they can be difficult to remove.
Although a tick will drop off your dog after it’s finished feeding, this process can take days, during which time the tick could paralyse your dog (in the case of paralysis ticks), or pass on tick-borne infections. The longer they stay attached, the greater the risk. That’s why it’s important to check your dog daily by running your fingers through the coat, and removing ticks as soon as you see one on your dog. Here’s how to do it safely.
1. Gather your supplies
The first thing you need to start the tick removal process is a tick removal tool, specifically designed to help you safely remove ticks from your dog in one piece.
If you don’t have a tick-puller, due to the very dangerous nature of paralysis ticks, either take your dog to the vet to remove the tick, or do your best to remove the tick with what you have available. Leaving the tick attached until you get the right tool is not an option for this deadly parasite!
You should also be prepared with a set of gloves to protect your hands during the process. Always wear gloves when dealing with ticks. The ticks found on your dog are very effective disease carriers, and some of these diseases can also affect you and your family.
Finally, have a sealed container handy to contain the tick after you remove it.
2. Keep your dog calm and relaxed
Attempt to remove a tick only when your dog is calm. Wait until your dog is still enough for you to get a good grasp of the tick with a tick removal tool. If you try to yank it out quickly, you risk leaving part of the tick behind in your dog’s skin, which can increase the risk of infection. It will be easier to remove the tick in one piece if your dog stays still. A bone or treat (such as jerky or kangaroo sticks) may help keep them occupied while you work to remove the tick.
3. Expose the tick
Gently part your dog’s coat around the tick and keep it flat with one hand, leaving your other hand free to remove the tick. Take your time with this step to ensure success. Because the tick has already latched on to your dog, it will stay in place and probably won’t move around after you expose it.
4. Use a tick removal tool to twist and pull the tick from your dog
The tick removal tool is shaped to get under the parasite’s body and pull it out in one go, without squeezing. These tools can be bought from the chemist or local vet clinics as well as some supermarkets.
Regular tweezers are not recommended for use in tick removal, as these are likely to crush the tick, and may leave part of it inside your dog.
Follow the instructions on your tick removal tool. Generally, the steps are:
1. Place the hook of the tool against your pet's skin, alongside the tick.
2. Carefully slide the tool underneath the tick, trapping the tick in the wedge of the hook.
3. Gently pull the tool away from the skin while twisting, to remove the tick.
5. Clean the tick bite
Gently wipe the affected area on your dog with an antiseptic designed for pets.
6. Dispose of the tick
Drop the tick into a lidded jar or sealable container, close the lid and keep it to show your vet in the event that your dog becomes unwell. Clean your tick tool with disinfectant and store it somewhere safe for future use. Dispose of the gloves and wash your hands thoroughly.
Keep ticks from biting your dog in the first place
To reduce the chance that you’ll have to remove ticks from your dog, use protection regularly such as the Seresto® collar or Advantix® spot-on treatment for dogs. Once applied to your dog, they both work to repel and kill ticks on contact as well as stopping fleas from biting and feeding on your dog within three to five minutes, and kill adult fleas and their larvae within 20 minutes.