How to remove a tick from a service dog

How to Remove a Tick from Your Service Dog: The Do's and Don'ts

September 2020 Dogs, Grooming

If you have ever had a tick cling on to you, you know how creepy and crawly they can be. If your emotional support dog spends a great deal of time outside especially in wooded areas, more than likely he's going to pick up a few too.

Lucky for us though, our opposable thumbs make it easy to quickly pull ticks off in a safe way. When it comes to your service dog though, it's up to you to make sure that they are tick free.

Follow this guide for the dos and don'ts of tick removal from your service dog.

What Are Ticks?

Ticks are small parasites that attach themselves to your dog's skin to suck the blood. There are several different species of ticks and how apparent they typically depend on where you live.

While many ticks are fairly harmless to your service dog and will only leave an itchy red spot where they bit, some aren't. Ticks can carry diseases that can be detrimental and sometimes even deadly for your emotional support dog.

A few of these diseases include:

  • Lyme Disease - This disease can cause arthritis and swelling in your dog's joints that could potentially result in painful lameness.
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever - RMSF can also cause lameness as well as fever and other signs.
  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Anaplasmosis

How to Search Your Service Dog for Ticks

Especially after your service dog has been outside, even just in short grass, it's important to check him over for possible ticks.

Comb through the fur with your fingers being sure to gently press down on the skin searching for any new bumps. Ticks typically like warm and protected areas. This means spots like the inside of the ears on your service dog or between their toes are prime tick hideouts.

Be sure to check hidden spots such as under their tail or beneath their collar where ticks could be hiding too.

For long-haired emotional support dogs, a hairdryer helps blow aside the hair allowing more efficient inspections.

What To Do if You Find a Tick on Your Dog

Things You Should Do

DO … act fast.

It can take as little as three hours for ticks carrying a disease to infect an animal. So in that case, the quicker you can remove them, the safer your emotional support dog will be. That also lessens the chance of your service dog bringing the tick into your home where it could then move on to you.

DO … use tweezers or a tick removal gadget.

Remove a tick from your service dog with a tweezer

Tweezers and tick removal gadgets make it so you can get as close to the skin of your service dog as you can. Both these types of tools also help you grip the parasite so that you can pull the small tick in a clean and efficient manner.

DO … make sure the tick is completely dead.

If you just throw the tick away into a trashcan or sink they could easily crawl right back out until they find their next host. Potentially, this could be your service dog all over again, repeating the cycle.

DO … clean up afterward.

Be sure to clean the wound around the tick bite with antiseptic and clean the tweezers with isopropyl alcohol. It's also important to keep an eye on your service dog and the skin area where you found the tick. You should contact your veterinarian if the skin remains irritated or infected for a long period afterward.

Things You Shouldn't Do

DON'T … remove ticks with your fingers.

Tweezers or a tick removal tool is an easier and cleaner method to extract a tick from your emotional support dog. Though, if you do choose to use your hands, you must disinfect your hands afterward. This is especially pertinent if there is any leftover tick saliva or blood on your fingers.

DON'T … squish or crush the tick on your service dog.

While it may seem smart to just kill the tick on-site, crushing it can actually force the infected body fluids back through the tick's mouth and risking infection for both you and your service dog.

Don't remove ticks with your finger from your service dog

DON'T … use things such as nail polish remover, vasaline, or repellents on the tick.

Though you may be thinking it's a smart idea to try to kill or suffocate the parasite, this can also cause it to vomit into your emotional support dog through the bite wound. Then any potential diseases it had are unfortunately going straight back into your pet.

DON'T … let your dog eat the tick.

Many dogs are fairly interested in what you're pulling off of them. Even if your dog really wants to eat the thing crawling around on your hand, be sure not to let them. Ticks that are carrying diseases can be even more deadly if they're ingested.

How to Prevent Ticks

While it's almost impossible to prevent your service dog from ever getting a tick, unless they never leave the inside of your home, there are a few tick control products you can use.

Chemical tick preventatives can include spot-on topical solutions, sprays, or insect-repelling collars. These types of preventative measures are usually fast-acting and effective for prevention though they may cause risky side effects.

There are a few natural remedies that you can try to prevent ticks as well such as adding garlic or apple cider vinegar to your service dog's diet. You can also look into more natural topical tick preventatives such as herbal flea and tick powders or homemade citrus repellants.

Washing your emotional support dog also regularly helps discourage your pet from having ticks living on them for long amounts of time.