What To Do if a Tick Bites Your Dog


Bryan Huynh

- Updated February 23, 2024

Key Takeaways

  1. Swift tick removal reduces Lyme disease risk; ticks need 12 hours of attachment to transmit.
  2. Routinely inspect your dog for ticks, focusing on head, neck, feet, and ears.
  3. If your dog has a tick, check for burrowing, gather tools, grip tick firmly, pull straight, clean wound, and save tick for examination if necessary.
  4. Vets recommend monitoring for Lyme disease signs; seek vet care for symptoms like fever, lethargy, lameness, or swollen lymph nodes.
  5. Lyme disease treatment in dogs usually involves antibiotics, often showing improvement within the first week.
What To Do if a Tick Bites Your Dog

If your pet enjoys exploring the great outdoors, there's a good chance they'll come across ticks from time to time. This possibility increases if you live in a tick-infested area or are on a wilderness vacation with your dog.

So, what should you do if you discover a tick on your dog? What should you do next? How do you safely remove it? In this article, we'll walk you through every step of dealing with ticks on your dog. Continue reading to find out when and how you should protect your pet!

Should You Be Worried If You Find a Tick on Your Dog?

If you find a tick on your dog and remove it immediately, your dog's chances of contracting Lyme disease are greatly reduced. The tick's transmission of this disease takes at least 12 hours, and it requires a whopping 48 hours of attachment before it can effectively spread the illness.

As a result, it's a good idea to give your dog a daily rubdown to check for these sneaky critters. Pay special attention to the head, neck, feet, and ears because ticks love to hang out in these areas. What's more, guess what? Most dogs appreciate the extra bit of one-on-one attention. This practice becomes even more important after your pup has played in the grass or the woods. By incorporating this simple yet effective routine into your dog-care routine, you can help keep ticks at bay and your dog safe from potential Lyme disease threats.

Steps to Take if Your Dog Has a Tick

  • Check For Burying To begin with, it's essential to examine the tick closely and determine if it has embedded itself beneath the skin. It's possible that the tick has bitten your dog without fully burrowing under the skin. Regardless, if there's any break in the skin, it's crucial to move forward with the following steps outlined in this guide.

If the tick is visibly on the surface and hasn't burrowed into the skin, you can use gloves to carefully remove it from your dog's hair. Safely dispose of the tick by flushing it down the toilet. It's important to note that a tick that hasn't penetrated the skin cannot transmit diseases to your dog.

  • Prepare Tools In the event that the tick has breached the skin, it's time to get ready for its removal. Before you start, make sure to collect the necessary tools. Equip yourself with a pair of gloves for personal protection. Additionally, have a set of fine-tipped tweezers or a specialized tick removal tool on hand. Gather supplies like rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, cotton swabs, and a damp washcloth with gentle soap.

Once your tools are in place, encourage your dog to approach by offering treats and affection. It might be helpful to have assistance from another adult family member, especially if your dog tends to get nervous in such situations.

  • Grip The Tick Gently separate your dog's hair to expose the tick's location. Once you have a clear view of the tick, employ either the fine-tipped tweezers or the designated tick removal tool to grasp it. Position the sharp section of the tweezers or the pointed end of the tool beneath the tick's mouthparts, precisely where the head connects to its body.

Precision in gripping the tick is crucial. Incorrect handling might lead to the tick's mouthparts breaking off and becoming embedded in your dog's skin, making subsequent removal more challenging. This step-by-step approach ensures effective and safe tick removal.

  • Pull Straight Up Securely grip the tick using the tweezers or tick removal tool, and then proceed to gently pull straight upward. It's important to maintain this straight motion, avoiding any angled pulling that could cause the tick's mouthparts to break and become lodged in the skin. As you perform the removal, apply slight pressure against your dog's skin to counteract the tick removal motion.

In the majority of cases, the tick will detach from your dog's skin after a brief period of pulling. For ticks deeply embedded, you might need to repeat this step a few times before the tick disengages. If the tick proves particularly stubborn, seeking guidance from your veterinarian may be necessary. This systematic approach helps ensure effective tick removal while minimizing the risk of complications.

  • Clean The Bite Wound After successfully removing the tick, ensure you cleanse the bite site meticulously using your damp, soapy washcloth. Following the cleansing, gently dry the area and then administer a small amount of rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to enhance the cleansing process. If desired, you can also apply a touch of antibiotic ointment to mitigate the risk of infection.

Once the tick has been completely eliminated and the bite area has been properly cleaned, don't forget to reward your dog with treats and heartfelt praise for their patience! It's possible that your dog might feel uneasy or distressed due to the encounter, so creating a positive association with the procedure can help alleviate any fear or anxiety stemming from it. This approach ensures your dog's comfort and well-being throughout the process.

  • Save The Tick Residing in an area prone to Lyme disease or other tick-related illnesses? Safeguard the removed tick in a plastic bag and promptly bring it to your veterinarian. This proactive step allows the vet to examine the tick and determine its potential for carrying diseases. To further ensure your dog's health, your veterinarian might propose future blood tests to confirm the absence of transmitted diseases.

If retaining the tick is unfeasible, it's strongly advised to schedule a veterinary visit regardless. In cases where accessing a vet isn't feasible, vigilant observation of your dog becomes crucial. Should any signs of illness or infection emerge, it's imperative to seek immediate veterinary evaluation to address the situation promptly. Prioritizing your dog's health in tick-prone areas contributes to their overall well-being.

Do You Need to Take Your Dog to the Vet After a Tick Bite?


Most veterinarians will tell you that you do not need to take your dog to the vet after a tick bite, but you should keep an eye out for signs or symptoms of Lyme disease in the coming weeks or months. You can rest easy knowing that only 10% of dogs infected with Lyme disease will develop symptoms. Contact your veterinarian if your dog develops a fever, lethargy, lameness, or swollen lymph nodes. They can perform a test to see if there are antibodies specific to the Borrelia bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Because it can take some time for these antibodies to develop in response to infection, the test may need to be repeated in 4 weeks.

If a test results in a positive result, the vet will most likely perform a more precise test to determine the level of antibodies. They may also perform blood and urine tests to determine kidney function. Once all of the results are in, it may be necessary to wait and see before the vet begins treatment, as treatment isn't always recommended if the dog isn't symptomatic. If the thought of unexpected vet bills from situations like this bothers you, be sure to look into our dog insurance plans and see what they cover.

How to Treat a Tick Bite on a Dog

If your dog displays symptoms or the test results indicate Lyme disease's harmful effects, it's probable that antibiotics will be prescribed. Often, issues like joint discomfort or lameness show improvement within the first week of treatment. This positive trend should continue, while your veterinarian will likely conduct follow-up tests in about 6 months to gauge the progress.

Dealing with the uncertainty of whether to test or treat a dog for Lyme disease following a tick encounter can be frustrating. Remember, significant complications must occur before an active Lyme infection develops. Feel free to reach out to your vet's office to discuss the next steps; their advice is valuable. Recommendations might differ based on your location and the tick type found. Nevertheless, most tick bites pose minimal risk and can be effectively managed and monitored, offering little chance for adverse outcomes.

Bottom Line

To sum it up, quick action is crucial when your dog gets bitten by a tick. Using proper methods like fine-tipped tweezers for careful tick removal, ensuring you don't break its mouthparts, goes a long way in reducing risks. Thoroughly cleaning the bite spot and applying antibiotic ointment can also help prevent infections.

In areas where tick-related diseases like Lyme disease are common, holding onto the removed tick and seeking your vet's advice is smart. Getting timely expert help ensures effective monitoring and possible treatment if any symptoms arise. Remember, staying proactive and informed gives you the tools to keep your furry friend safe from the potential issues that tick bites can bring.

About The Author

Bryan Huynh

Bryan Huynh

Product Tester & Writer

Bryan Huynh is a dedicated Product Tester & Writer. Just as insurance has your back, Bryan works to review and inform you about the wide range of insurance products available, ranging from business, auto, health, home, pet, to life insurance.

The Latest Articles

Read Articles