Dried Dead Tick on Dog: How to Remove & What to Do

During the warmer months, ticks and pests infiltrate dogs and other house pets. If your dog spends plenty of time outside, you’ll likely find ticks in your dog’s fur at some point. 

If you proactively treat your dog with tick medicine and repellant before tick season, you may also notice dried dead ticks on your dog’s skin and fur. Even if the tick is dead, finding a tick on your pet is always scary.

Dead ticks are much less deadly than live ticks. Still, you should not leave dead ticks on your dog. So, what should you do when a dead dried tick is on your dog? Read on to find out how to handle this common situation! 

Can a Tick Be Dead & Still Attached?

Yes, a tick can be dead and still attached to your dog. Even after ticks die and their shells dry up, their mouths will hook firmly into your pup’s skin. Ticks are far easier to remove from your dog’s skin when the pest is living than when it is dead because ticks have taken enough blood to lose their grasp and slip off naturally when they’re alive.

When ticks die, their mouths may stay firm into your dog’s skin, and when they shrivel, their teeth may sink even further. Sometimes, a dead tick’s head will remain buried under your pup’s skin, even if the tick’s body has dried.

How Do I Know if a Tick Is Dead?

There are several signs that a tick has reached the end of its lifecycle. Generally, a dead tick’s legs will not move. When you notice a potentially dead tick on your dog, watch the tick for several minutes to ensure that it is not moving. 

However, a tick’s legs may be still while it is alive. It is important to check if the tick’s legs and body are dried up or shriveled. When a tick dies, its body will shrink and wrinkle. When this happens, the tick’s legs will curl up and stiffen.  

Additionally, make sure the alleged tick is a tick and not a mole or skin tag. Ticks on dogs show up in a dark color. When a tick does not feed, they turn either black or brown. When the ticks feed on a host, they change to a lighter, almost white, color. Tick bodies are also normally firm and smooth to the touch and can move when nudged. 

Dried Dead Tick on Dog Removal Process

Dead ticks may cause your dog’s skin to become red, irritable, and swollen if it stays embedded in your dog’s skin for a long time. So, whether the tick is living or dead, you must remove it from your dog’s skin.

If you have removed a live tick before, you are in luck. You will get rid of a dead tick from your dog the same way you remove a live tick. Before you start the removal process, you will need a pair of medical gloves, tweezers or any tick removal tool, rubbing alcohol as first aid antiseptic, or hydrogen peroxide, paper towels, and a plastic bag. 

Step 1: Find the Dried Tick on Your Dog 

First, you must locate the dead tick. Typically, ticks show up on your dog’s stomach, head, throat, ears, snout, mouth, or under its legs and paws. If your dog’s fur is thick or long, it may be a challenge to locate the tick’s exact location but it is important to remove the tick.

Ticks are hard, tiny, spherical lumps that range in size from 1 millimeter (mm) to 1 centimeter (cm). Depending on the tick’s life stage, they usually have 6 to 8 legs. Ticks that have been using your dog as a host for a long time might grow to be as big as a grape.

Step 2: Use Gloves & Tweezers to Remove the Dried Dead Tick 

Before you start to dig into your pup’s skin, put on rubber gloves to protect yourself. Then, using tweezers or a tick removal instrument, get as close to your dog’s skin as possible while grabbing the tick’s body firmly.

 Apply consistent pressure on the tick’s body with the instrument while gently tugging it upwards from your dog’s skin without twisting or pulling too forcefully. It is normal for a small bit of your dog’s skin to fall off as the tick detaches.

 Keep a steady hand when removing the tick with the tweezer to avoid puncturing the tick. If a tick’s body is mistakenly punctured, the toxin from the tick’s body can flow onto your dog’s skin, or the toxin may enter your dog’s circulation.

Step 3: Clean & Disinfect the Tick Bite 

Clean the infected spot once you extract the tick from your dog’s skin. This will aid in the disinfection of any disease-causing microorganisms present on the bite site. Wipe the bite area with rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.

Do not forget to clean your tweezers or removal tools. After you finish removing the tick, sanitize the instrument with rubbing alcohol. 

Step 4: Place the Dried Dead Tick Someplace Safe 

You can wrap the tick in a wet paper towel and then store it in a clear plastic bag if you’re concerned about any infections that may be transferred to your dog. Meanwhile, place the bag in the refrigerator with a wet towel to keep it moist until you visit the vet. Keep track of the tick removal date and the location of the bite on your dog’s body.

If you’re not worried but want to be sure the tick is dead, fill a container with isopropyl alcohol and place the tick in. Then you may dispose of it as you see fit.

Final Thoughts On Dried Dead Ticks On Your Dog

Fortunately, dried dead ticks are much less deadly than live ticks and generally not a cause for concern. Ticks must stay and feed on your dog’s skin for at least 24 hours before they may transport Lyme disease and harmful bacteria into your dog’s circulation.

 As a result, your dog will not become ill if a tick is on its skin for less than 24 hours. However, if you are worried and notice your pet is acting funny, it is wise to see the vet.

Photo of author

Dr. Jacob Hawthorne, DVM

Dr. Jacob Hawthorne, DVM is a certified veterinarian who graduated from the University of California - Davis Veterinary School in 2012. He specializes in nutrition and veterinary medicine for companion animals such as dogs, cats, rabbits, and more. He has been featured in websites such as PetMD, Yahoo News, Hills Pet, Daily Paws, and more. Learn more about Dr. Jacob Hawthorne, DVM.

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