Oct 31 2018

What do I do if my dog has a tick?

Ticks have been a persistent pest in Oakville this season and we have recently had a spike in cases of ticks on dogs.  We wanted to share his reference guide to how to deal with a tick you’ve found on your dog.  Happy reading!

There’s a tick on my dog!  Now what?


  1. Don’t panic!  It is important that the tick is removed in a timely fashion, but it must be removed carefully to ensure the entire mouth-parts are removed along with the tick.
  2. If your vet is open, pop in to have it removed!  Why deal with the creepy crawlies yourself when you can have the veterinary professionals do it for you?
  3. If getting to your vet is not feasible at the time you see the tick, you can remove it yourself.  There are a few different methods that can be used for this, but some methods are safer than others.  
    • The most commonly recommended method is to use a standard pair of tweezers (ideally with pointed tips) to grasp the tick as close to the skin where it is attached as possible.  The tick’s head/mouth parts will be embedded within the skin and there is a risk that these parts could remain in the skin if the tweezers aren’t grasped in the proper location (i.e. aim to grasp the head of the tick as opposed to the body/abdomen of the tick).  Once placed, pull straight up with steady even pressure until the tick releases.
    • There are also specific tools that can be used for tick removal, such as the “Tick Twister“.  This tool is designed to scoop beneath the tick.  It is then rotated (along with the tick itself) until the tick releases.
    • AVOID methods that involve placing noxious substances on the tick like rubbing alcohol or insecticides.  This could cause the tick to regurgitate more of its saliva/gut contents, thus increasing the risk of transmitting tick borne illness like lyme disease.  Ticks should not be burned as this is dangerous and will not help release the tick.
  4. Clean the area of attachment with soapy water.
  5. If you aren’t sure if the tick was completely removed, continue to monitor the area closely for any redness, swelling, or discharge.  It is best to have your vet check the area as well.
  6. To avoid tick attachments in the future, ask your vet for tick prevention medication.  Veterinarians can prescribe oral chewable tablets or topical medications that are very effective at preventing and treating ticks.
  7. Monitor your dog for signs of illness over the next several weeks to months.  Tick borne illnesses like lyme disease can show up as long as 5 months after the tick exposure.  Lyme disease can cause lameness, lethargy, and reduced appetite.  In some cases the bacterial infection will the enter kidneys, and cause more severe signs of illness like sudden onset vomiting, refusing food, and weight loss.  Your veterinarian can test for lyme disease and other tick borne illness and treat as needed.

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