Is Your Pet a Tick Magnet? Here’s What to Do if You Find One!

While cicada coverage has dominated the news this year, another insect has been causing a lot more issues for our dogs and cats. We’ve seen a surge in tick cases lately, with many pets needing tick removal. Don’t worry, this is not an emergency and most pet owners can handle tick removal at home – follow these steps to keep your furry friend safe!

Safe tick removal in dogs

Before you begin

  • Gather your supplies: fine-tipped tweezers or a tick removal tool, rubbing alcohol or antiseptic solution, and gloves (optional).

Tick removal

  1. Protect yourself: Consider wearing gloves to avoid contact with the tick.
  2. Locate the tick: Using your fingers or a comb, part your pet’s fur to locate the tick. Ticks are commonly found in areas with less fur, such as around the ears, neck, head, paws, and belly (see graphic).
  3. Grasp the tick: Using fine-tipped tweezers or a tick removal tool, carefully grab the tick’s head or mouthparts as close to your dog’s skin as possible. Avoid squeezing the tick’s body.
  4. Steady removal: With slow, even pressure, pull the tick straight out from your dog’s skin. Do not twist or jerk, as this can detach the body from the head, leaving parts embedded in the skin.
  5. Inspect the area: Once removed, examine the bite site to ensure all parts of the tick have been removed.
  6. Dispose of the tick: Place the tick in a sealed container with rubbing alcohol or drown it. Avoid crushing it with your fingers. Take a picture of the tick in case your primary care veterinarian asks to see it.


After removal

  1. Clean the bite site: Use rubbing alcohol or an antiseptic solution to clean the area where the tick was attached. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  2. Monitor your dog: Watch the bite site for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or pus. Consult your veterinarian if you notice any concerning signs.

Additional tips

  • If you’re uncomfortable removing the tick yourself, consult your primary care veterinarian or urgent care facility.
  • Consult with your primary care veterinarian about the best parasite prevention medication for your dog or cat.
  • Always let your regular veterinarian know if your pet has had tick exposure so they can evaluate tick preventative measures.
  • Any type of treatment options after tick exposure will be up to your primary care veterinarian.

Important notes:

  • Do not use hot oil, petroleum jelly, or other substances to remove a tick. These methods can irritate the tick and cause it to regurgitate, potentially increasing the risk of infection.
  • If the tick’s mouthparts remain embedded in your dog’s skin, your pet’s body will usually expel it naturally. The tick’s head can secrete a substance that helps it stay buried. Trying to remove it can increase the risk of infection. Consult your primary care veterinarian as soon as possible for next steps.

Starting Monday, April 8th through the end of September, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) will begin their road resurfacing project along Waukegan Road from Lake Cook Road to Half Day Road (IL 22). Please allow additional travel time to our hospital during the construction. Learn More: Waukegan Road Resurfacing Project