How to remove a tick from a dog

  • With fine-tipped tweezers

How a tick is removed is extremely important. Incorrect removal can result in:

  • The tick’s mouth parts being left behind in the skin.
  • Compression of the tick’s body.
  • Puncture of the tick’s body.
  • Injury and irritation to the tick.

Why is this a problem?

  • Leaving behind the tick’s mouth parts may result in a localised infection, which in severe cases can lead to abscesses and even septicaemia.
  • Compressing the tick’s body may cause fluids (its saliva and gut contents) to be squeezed back into the bloodstream of its host (the person or animal it’s attached to). These fluids may contain disease-causing organisms.
  • Puncturing the body of the tick may spill infective fluids (full of disease-causing organisms) on to the host, or on to the person removing the tick.
  • Causing injury or irritation to the tick may result in it regurgitating (vomiting) infective fluids into the host, potentially causing a serious infection.

Use the above links to find out the correct technique for tick removal with tweezers and a tick-removal tool, and check out our MYTH BUSTING section below.

Tick Signs

Tick poisoning is not immediate. Signs can take up to 28 days to appear, or may occur within a few days. Activity and high temperatures can hasten and worsen signs so it is important to keep your pet cool (but not cold) and quiet until you get them to the vet. Also avoid giving food and water, as aspiration pneumonia can develop due to swallowing difficulties.

The poisoning causes:

  • A change in bark or voice
  • Loss of appetite
  • Coughing, particularly a soft moist cough
  • Vomiting or retching
  • Weakness in the back legs
  • Partial facial paralysis (particularly if the tick is attached to the head)
  • Excessive salivation or difficulty swallowing
  • Panting, noisy breathing or difficulty breathing
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As tick paralysis progresses, your dog may be unable to stand, will have breathing difficulties and can develop respiratory arrest.

Immediate care

  • Do not offer food or water-swallowing as ability can be impaired.
  • Keep your pet quiet and calm.
  • Avoid exercise and heat.
  • Get your pet to the vet if you find an engorged tick, or your pet is showing any of the above signs (there may be a tick you can’t find). Early intervention is important!
  • If you have the tick, take it with you.

Tick prevention strategies

  • Use a fortnightly tick preventative (Frontline or Advantix ) or tick collar (Kiltix).
  • Tick search daily.
  • Avoid tick shampoos, rinses or powders –they last at best 24 hours.
  • Keep lawns short and avoid walking your pet in long grasses.
  • Fence off any scrubby or bushy areas in your yard (particularly if you have bandicoots nearby).
  • Keep your pet’s coat short to make tick searching easier.
  • Walk your dog on a leash so you can keep him on clear grassy areas during tick season.
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