Tick removal in dogs
Who has not experienced this? A relaxed walk in nature, your four-legged friend enjoys roaming through the tall grass and romping in the undergrowth. When you arrive home, as a responsible dog owner, you naturally check immediately whether your darling has brought back a tick from the outing - and lo and behold: you find one with hand, brush and watchful eyes.
Our tip: Tick species such as the common wood tick like to bite your dog on slightly less hairy and thin-skinned parts of the body. However, they often crawl around in their host's fur before biting, so look carefully for the little parasites both in the fur and especially on the belly, legs and head.
A tick is no reason to panic at first. However, you should remove it as soon as possible, because a tick bite can transmit pathogens, for example from the salivary glands. The sooner you remove the tick, the less blood the pesky arachnid can suck and the lower the risk of the tick bite causing an unpleasant infection (e.g. TBE or Lyme disease). We show you what is important when removing ticks.
How can I remove a tick from my dog?
There are some specially designed tools to remove a tick:
- Tick card
- Tick forecaps
- Tick hook
- Tick tweezers
- Tick lasso/snare
If you don't have any of these at hand, you can also use household tweezers. Here you just have to be a little more careful not to squeeze the tick, as normal tweezers are a little wider at the bottom than fine tick tweezers that are curved at the bottom.
Removing a tick from a dog with tweezers
We show you how to get rid of an already sucking tick in 5 steps using tweezers (tick tweezers are best for this):
- Find a quiet spot: Take your four-legged friend to the side and make yourselves as comfortable as possible. This will relax your dog. You should assume a suitable position in which you can easily reach the tick. If the tick is on a hairy part of the body, hold the fur aside with one hand as best you can.
- Grasp the tick with the tweezers: With the other hand, grasp the tick with the tweezers as close to your pet's skin as possible.
- Carefully pull out the tick: Once you have a firm grip on the tick, pull it out carefully and slowly. Please do not twist it or pull it out in a jerky manner! Sometimes it is not possible to remove the tick at the first attempt because the tick's mouthparts have barbs and they also produce a kind of "glue" in their saliva to help them hold on while sucking blood.
- Dispose of the tick: Once you have succeeded in removing the pesky animal, it must be disposed of. The safest way to do this is to place the tick on a paper towel, fold it over and crush it with a hard object. If you have at least 40 % alcohol at home, you can also kill the tick in it. However, it is not effective to flush the tick down the toilet, drown it in water or crush it with your finger.
- Disinfect: Finally, you should carefully disinfect the area.
- Observe the bite site and your dog: Especially if it is a full tick that has bitten a while ago, you should observe the site afterwards. If the inflammatory reaction persists for a longer period of time or symptoms such as fever and exhaustion, you should consult your vet.
Dog does not allow tick to be removed
Your dog may not be very happy when you pick at him with tweezers or other tools and tug at his fur. He won't stay still, resists, wriggles or wants to run away. One reason for this could be that it is not yet familiar with this procedure or that the tick has chosen a particularly sensitive part of the body for its blood meal. These include for example
- Tick on the eyelid or eye
- Tick on the snout
- Tick in the ear
Depending on the body part, a tick card (due to its size and shape) or tweezers (due to their tip) may be less suitable for removal than a plastic tick loop or tick forceps. Here you should consider which tool seems most promising. With a little skill and long enough fingernails, you can also try to remove the tick with your thumb and index finger. However, only apply moderate pressure so that you do not squeeze the tick. If you apply too much pressure, saliva could get into the puncture site, which unnecessarily increases the risk of infection.
Our tip: If you don't have the confidence to remove the tick, your dog doesn't want to cooperate or you noticed the tick bite late and the bite site shows redness or is even inflamed, you should of course consult a vet. You can find out in advance how much it costs to have a tick removed by calling a vet.
Tick removed, but the head is still there
If you were not able to remove the tick completely and you can still see black remains in the skin, it is usually not the head of the animal but its mouth parts. With a bit of luck, they will still stick out of the skin far enough for you to pull them out with fine tweezers. If you don't succeed, don't worry. The body may react with an inflammatory reaction to expel the foreign body. Keep an eye on the area. In the best case, the remnants will disappear on their own.
Removing a tick correctly: 3 things you should not do
There are some persistent myths about the correct removal of ticks, but in the worst case they can cause damage. Therefore, you should avoid the following measures:
- Let the tick stick
The risk of infection increases the longer the tick remains in the skin. In the case of Lyme disease pathogens, for example, it is assumed that these reach the salivary glands from the tick's intestine about 12 hours after the bite and are transmitted from there to the victim. Therefore: The tick should be removed as soon as possible.
- Twist or squeeze the tick out
Ticks do not have thread-like mouthparts, so twisting does not help to remove the tick. However, twisting and too much pressure can cause the animal to become stressed, secrete more saliva and thus transmit pathogens.
- Destroy the tick with alcohol, oil, glue or nail polish remover.
Chemicals will not help you in this case, because the liquids can cause the tick to vomit and the pathogens to enter the host's body all the more quickly.
Conclusion: As with other parasites, prevention is still the best remedy against ticks. There are a number of suitable preparations (e.g. spot on products) and protective measures (e.g. a tick collar) for tick protection in dogs, which your vet can advise you on in detail.