If you and your dog spend anytime outdoors, especially now that spring is here, one of you has likely ended up with a tick. You might not feel it bite, but all of a sudden, you look down and there’s a tick. Do you know what to do next?

Even if you use a good topical preventative, ticks can still happen. Check yourself and your pets after outings. Be sure to check in your pups ears, her feet, and around her face. Ticks are capable of transmitting diseases, most notably Lyme disease. And they can be tiny—the smallest can be about the size of a pin head—so check carefully. Ticks have eight legs, with a head smaller than their body. The head can become detached from the body during removal, so remove carefully. If you don’t feel comfortable doing so, and your vet’s clinic is open—give the clinic a call to see if you can take your dog in. 

To remove a tick yourself:

  1. Prepare. Get some gloves if you’d like, and a tweezers or tick removal tool. You can also just use your fingers. You can sterilize the area with some rubbing alcohol before beginning. Get ready to dispose of the tick.
  2. Removal. Go slowly, yet firmly, to ensure the tick comes out whole. Try to remove the tick without squeezing and twisting. With a tweezers or your fingers, grasp the tick as close to its head as possible before pulling it out. If you’re using a tick removal tool, slide the notch of the remover under the tick and gently slide the remover along, bringing the tick along with it.
  3. Disposal. Get rid of the tick—flushing it or throwing it in the trash won’t kill it. If you’d like to take it to your vet to examine, ready a jar with some rubbing alcohol in it. If you’re going to toss it, dip the tick into rubbing alcohol first, or simply toss the tick into the campfire.
  4. Clean the wound. You can wipe the wound down with some rubbing alcohol—keep in mind it may sting—and apply some antibiotic ointment. Keep an eye on the tick bite area. If it begins to look infected, or just seems to be bothering your pup, give your vet a call.  Tick-related infections, such as Lyme disease, won’t show up right away. If your dog gets sick within the next few months or so, be sure to mention the tick bite to your vet. It’s not a bad idea to jot down the date of any tick bites, so you can easily pull this information back up, if needed. A simple blood test can determine if your pup is suffering from a tick borne illness.

By Rachel Leisemann Immel