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How to Get a Tick Off a Dog With Dish Soap in 6 Easy Steps

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By Nicole Cosgrove

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Dr. Paola Cuevas

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When you find a tick on your dog, it’s important to remove it as quickly as possible. Ticks can carry various diseases. The longer that an infected tick is attached to your dog, the more time the insect has to transmit these diseases.

Tick removal can be tricky. The best thing to do would be to take your dog to the vet for proper removal, but this isn’t always possible. Fortunately, you can remove any ticks that you find on your dog using dish soap and a few other household items.

Ticks must be removed completely and thoroughly, with none of its body parts left embedded in your dog’s skin. If the tick vomits or gets ripped in half, its contents can then leak into the bite wounds that it left behind in the skin, potentially causing illness.

In this article, we look at how you can remove a tick from your dog using dish soap and what to do afterward.

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Identifying a Tick

To positively identify a tick, you have to know what you’re looking for. Many people realize that their dog has ticks when they feel hard, tiny lumps under their coats.

Ticks are arachnids with eight legs (tick larvae have six) and oval-shaped bodies. They can resemble warts on a dog’s skin at first, but you’ll see the legs if you look closer. Depending on the type of tick, colors can vary between tan, brown, and black. As the insects feed on blood, their bodies swell up and resemble coffee beans.

Ticks can bite and spread diseases to humans too. If you’ve spotted ticks on your dog, check yourself thoroughly to make sure they aren’t also attached to you.

Ticks like to hide in these areas on dogs, so pay close attention to them during your checks:

  • Around ears
  • Around eyelids
  • Under front legs and between back legs
  • Between toes
  • Around tails
  • Under the collar and around the neck
Dog tick
Image Credit: Koy_Hipster, Shutterstock

Before You Start

If your dog often gets ticks or you just want to be ready in case you happen to find one, you’ll need to have your supplies ready, since immediate tick removal is important. Storing them in one area that you can easily access when you need to will save you time.

Before you start the removal process, gather your supplies and set them up around you within reach.

You will need:
  • Plastic or glass container with lid
  • Dish soap of your choice (Dawn or an equivalent is best)
  • Cotton balls
  • Tweezers
  • Antiseptic solution
  • 3 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol in a small bowl
  • Gloves if desired
  • Another person to help hold your dog still if necessary
German shepherd dog was bitten by a tick
Image Credit: Fire-n, Shutterstock

Removing the Tick

  1. If you’re using gloves, put them on. Fill your plastic or glass container with warm water, and add 3 tablespoons of dish soap to it. Cover the container with the lid and shake well. Remove the lid.
  2. Soak a cotton ball in soapy water until it’s fully saturated.
  3. Cover the tick with the cotton ball, and hold it firmly in place for 30 seconds. This should make the tick start to loosen its grip. It can take up to 3 minutes for the tick to start to loosen, so keep holding it until you feel it happen. Don’t pull, rub, or try to grab the tick through the cotton ball.
  4. Once the tick releases its grip, you can pull it straight up off your dog’s skin. The tick may even get trapped in the cotton ball, making this easier for you. Make sure the tick is entirely removed from the skin with no parts left behind, like their pincers or head.
  5. Take your tweezers, and remove the tick from the cotton ball. Drop it in the bowl of rubbing alcohol to kill it. You may want to keep the tick in case your dog becomes ill. Your vet can determine the best course of treatment by identifying what type of tick was attached to them.
  6. Apply antiseptic to the affected area to kill any germs left behind. Pat the area dry.

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After Removing the Tick

Be sure to check your dog’s body thoroughly for any ticks that may remain. Repeat the removal process for any others that you find.

Once you’re sure there are no ticks left on your dog and the ones that have been removed have not left body parts behind in the skin, it’s important to watch for signs of tick-borne illnesses. Symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Joint swelling
  • Diarrhea
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle aches
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Weight loss
  • Skin lesions
  • Seizures

If you notice any of these signs in your dog, let your vet know what’s going on. If you bring your dog in for treatment, bring the removed tick or ticks with you for identification purposes. Treatment can be determined more easily once the vet knows what type of tick caused the issue.

girl baby talking a black dog
Image Credit: Vikulin, Shutterstock

How to Prevent Ticks

Tick-prevention products are effective at keeping your dog safe from ticks and other parasites. Talk to your vet about which tick prevention would be right for your dog and how you should administer it. Some of these products are eaten as a chew or tablet, and others are applied as a liquid directly to the skin. Your vet will know which one would be best based on your dog’s age, weight, health, and lifestyle.

If your dog spends plenty of time outdoors, especially in tall grass, woods, or forests, they should have some sort of protection against ticks. By keeping these parasites off of them, you will keep your dog healthy and happy. You will also save yourself the unpleasant job of having to search for and remove ticks from their bodies.

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Final Thoughts

Finding a tick on your dog is never a fun experience. The good news is that you can remove ticks yourself at home if you have the right supplies. Dish soap and water can help loosen ticks so you can pull them out of your dog’s skin.

Once the tick is removed, watch for signs of illness in your dog. If you visit your vet, bring the tick with you so they know what type it is. Talk to your vet about monthly tick prevention to keep your dog safe from these critters.

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Featured Image Credit: Jim Barber, Shutterstock

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