A happy dog laying on a moss-covered stump in the woods.

How to remove a tick

Team Walmart Pets

May 28, 2021


min read

Finding a tick on your dog after a walk through the forest or playtime at the park can cause any pet parent to panic. Thankfully, if they’re found quick enough, most ticks can be removed before doing much harm.

Where are ticks found?

Many areas of the country — the Northeast, Southeast, South and Midwest — suffer heavy tick infestations from early spring through to late fall. These little bloodsuckers can be responsible for a number of serious diseases in humans and animals alike including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichia, babesia and tick paralysis. 

The type of tick most dog parents are familiar with is the black-legged tick. One variety of this insect, known as the deer tick, is responsible for most Lyme disease in the Northeast and Upper Midwest. On the Pacific coast, it is the other variety, the bear tick, that’s responsible for spreading most of the Lyme disease cases.

What does a tick bite on a dog look like?

Tick bites can be hard to distinguish from other insect bites on your dog or cat, since they’re usually just a small red bump. 

If your pet’s tick bite develops into Lyme disease, they may also experience these symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Lameness 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Reduced energy
  • Stiffness, discomfort, or pain
  • Swelling of joints

How to remove a tick

Removing ticks from your cat or dog can be tricky, fortunately, the Tick Key makes it easier. If you don’t have one at home, try to remove the tick with regular tweezers or tweezers for pets

How to safely remove a tick with tweezers:

  • Spread your pet’s fur and grab the tick as close to your pet’s skin as possible.
  • Very gently, pull gently and steadily in an upward direction, making sure not to jerk or twist the tick around. This will help keep the tick in one piece.
  • If the tick does break apart, don’t panic. Use your tweezers and get out as much of the remaining mouthparts from your pet’s skin as you can. Your pet’s immune system can do the rest. 
  • After you’ve removed the tick, clean the bite site with rubbing alcohol, and rinse the tweezers or tool with disinfectant. Then, make sure to thoroughly wash your hands.

NOTE: Be sure to never crush a tick with your fingers. it’s not only ineffective—the squeezing could further inject infectious material. Dispose of a live tick by putting it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it with tape or by flushing it down the toilet.

If you’re overly concerned about a bite, or are squeamish, call your vet ASAP.

Preventing tick bites in the future

Always be mindful about where you walk your dog and where you let them explore on their own, keeping in mind the locations ticks like to hang out in. 

You can also protect your pet from fleas and ticks with certain medications. In particular, Frontline for dogs, puppies, cats and kittens is a great way for pets of any size and type to stay protected.

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Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash