Ticks are gross. There’s really no other way to put it. They’re just awful. And if you’ve ever found one on your dog, you know what I’m talking about. And while lyme disease is not common, these little nasties can still do a number if they’re carrying, so it’s crucial to know how to remove a tick from a dog when you find one.

We take our dogs hiking in the woods pretty often. And even though we spray them with natural tick repellant each and every time, and do a thorough tick check when we get home, we do find the odd one that’s managed to hang on through it all.

So, we’re going to give you some tips on how to get rid of them. But first – here’s what you SHOULDN’T do.

How to Remove a Tick from a Dog: The DON’Ts

There are lots of myths surrounding how to remove a tick from a dog. We’ve heard them all, and trust us, some are wackier than others.

When you’re trying to get that tick off, these are some of the common removal myths that you don’t want to try at home:

  1. Rubbing Alcohol – The idea with this myth is that the alcohol (or soap) will create an undesirable environment for the tick, forcing it to detach. The problem is, this takes more time than removing it with tweezers, and that creates more opportunities for pathogens to enter your dog’s bloodstream.
  2. Matches/Lighter – According to this myth, burning a tick off is the most efficient way to remove it. WRONG! Think about trying to burn something that size attached closely to your dog’s skin. Ya, that’s not going to go over well. And not only is this not going to work, it can also increase the risk of infection!
  3. Vaseline – Again, like rubbing alcohol, trying to create an inhospitable environment, or suffocating a tick with petroleum jelly, takes a long time. Your goal needs to be removing the tick as soon as possible.

How to Remove a Tick from a Dog: The DOs

All you need to safely remove a tick from your dog is a pair of tweezers.

Be careful, and try to take your time. Get right down in there and grasp the head of the tick (Not the body!), with the tweezers. Then, pull straight up. You don’t want to twist the tick, so keep your tweezers steady and straight. Your pup may not like the feeling (it can hurt a bit), but you want to try and get all of the tick and you definitely don’t want to burst the body. Gently apply pressure until the tick pulls away from the skin.

remove ticks

You can also use a tick removing tool – like a Tick Key or Tick Twister, like the one below. And yes, despite the name, the twister is safe because the gentle twist at the head causes the tick to detach – rather than you twisting the head right off with the tweezers!

tick twister

Once you’ve removed the tick, you want to sanitize the area. You can use alcohol for this, or soap and water. Wash your hands as well, along with the tweezers.

Don’t throw the tick in the garbage – pulling it out with tweezers won’t kill it, so it can easily crawl back out. To be safe, flush it. You can also keep it in plastic bag in the fridge if you want to have your vet test it.

Other Tick Tips

If your dog’s out every day in areas with ticks, then you need to check him every day. Otherwise, check him when he’s been in the woods or any tick-infested area.

Some dogs will scratch or bite at the area where a tick is, so pay attention and check out those spots if your pup suddenly starts paying attention to a certain area.

Ticks will attach anywhere they can, but they like certain areas more than others. When you’re doing your thorough tick check, pay special attention to places like:

  • Ears
  • Paws
  • Tail
  • Armpits
  • Bum and groin

Only deer ticks, or blacklegged ticks, carry Lyme disease, and only 1 in 4 or 5 actually carry it. That said, there are other tick-borne diseases, so you want to remove a tick a tick as soon as you find it.

Remember, if you find a tick on your dog, don’t freak out. As gross as they may be, they shouldn’t stop you from living your life with your pup. Take that hike. Just do a thorough check afterwards, and if you’re concerned, take the tick to the vet to be tested.