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How to remove a tick? Doorstep Vet answers all our questions

Ticks can cause serious health issues if left untreated. Doorstep Vet founder, Joanna Melville, tells us everything we need to know about tick control.

Written by Rachael Nichol
Published 27.09.2023

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As your dog spends a lot of time outside, tick checks should be part of your daily routine.

The Big Tick Project (published in 2016)  found 1 in 3 dogs to be infested with ticks, with the North East being at medium-high tick-threat risk. Ticks are active year-round and when left untreated they have the potential to cause serious health issues for your dog.

But don’t worry, Doorstep Vet are here to the rescue. The family-run mobile veterinary practice that comes straight to your doorstep is a stress-free, convenient and personal service that makes your pets’ and your life a whole lot easier.

With over 20 years of experience being a vet, we caught up with Doorstep Vet founder, Joanna Melville, to learn everything we need to know about tick control.


Ticks are small biting parasites with large jaws that can be found anywhere in the UK typically, in long grass, parks, meadows and woodlands.

Ticks anchor onto grass or shrubs until your dog brushes against them, where they crawl onto your dog, attach, and burrow their heads into the skin. Ticks will bite and attach to your dog, where they take a blood meal.


Although tick bites can be uncomfortable, the main risk is the transmission of infections into your dog’s blood that can cause diseases including Lyme disease, which can be life-threatening.

The majority of dogs that have Lyme disease don’t show symptoms until several months after the initial tick bite, making it difficult to diagnose. Symptoms of this disease can be very vague, which can make them difficult to treat.



Ticks thrive in damp, humid environments, and can be found in urban and rural areas, so no part of the UK is safe from them as eliminating them from the environment is impossible.

The Big Tick Project was conducted a few years ago, which found the North East to be at medium-high tick-threat risk. Tick numbers are on the rise, possibly due to changes in our climate which means that warm, wet weather is becoming more common.


Getting to know your dog’s skin/fur is the best way to recognise what is ‘normal’ and the quickest way to notice any changes.  Do this by stroking methodically from the top to bottom of your dog.

Ticks can attach anywhere on your dog’s skin, however, they are most commonly found where the coat is thinner, such as around the base of their ears or on their paws.

They can be very hard to spot until they enlarge after feeding, which is why parasite control is so important.



Although you can’t prevent ticks from attaching to your dog, you can considerably reduce the risk of bacterial infection/disease transmission by using a tick treatment.

No tick treatment can fully prevent a tick from biting your dog, but by killing the ticks within a certain time they greatly reduce the risk of disease transmission. As ticks can be hard to find before they feed, this is the best way of reducing disease risk – relying on finding and removing them is much harder and may fail.

3 main categories of tick control*

  1. Collars – these contain insecticides that your dog wears to repel/kill ticks.
  2. Spot on – these products may repel/kill ticks and reduce contact time. There are restrictions on swimming/bathing and extreme caution in households with cats as these products can be toxic.
  3. Tablets – these products kill ticks and reduce contact time. Generally, there are no restrictions on swimming.

HLN TOP TIP: Always ensure you know how to safely use the tick control before going ahead with any treatment and make sure to take precautions when handling your dog (especially with small children) during and after the treatment.


When removing a tick, ensure you do not squeeze the tick’s body or leave the head behind as this may push blood back into your dog, increasing the risk of a disease or causing an infection. It’s best to use a tick removal tool.

These are designed to get as close to your dog’s skin as possible without causing damage and, if used correctly, will remove the tick in its entirety.

  1. Restrain – Ensure your dog is safely restrained to enable you full access to the tick to provide the best chance of full removal.
  2. Separate the fur – Spread their fur apart to provide you with a clear view of the tick.
  3. Attach the tick remover – Approach the side of the tick. Slide the hook as close as possible to your dog’s skin and engage the head. Lift the hook (lightly) and turn. The tick will detach after two or three turns.


  • Stick it onto cellotape, wrap it in a sealed bag and dispose of it in a rubbish bin.
  • Flush it down the toilet.
  • Place it in alcohol into a sealed container.

NEVER, crush it with your fingers as this poses a risk of introducing the bacteria or disease to yourself.

If my dog or I have been bitten by a tick, will I contract Lyme disease?

You or your dog being bitten doesn’t mean you will be infected, but there is some risk.  There are several types of tick species and not all of them carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Screening tests are available for Lyme disease if needed.

What about cats?

Although cats can and do get bitten by ticks, they appear to be at much lower risk than dogs. Cats require specific tick medication – do not use a dog product on a cat.

*DISCLAIMER: Tick control is complex and not all products are equal. If you would like further advice on tailored tick control and how to remove a tick get in touch with your vet or Doorstep Vet.

For more information about the services Doorstep Vet can provide or to book your next appointment, visit their website and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

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