Embedded Ticks On Your Dog: How To Deal

Close-up of brown dog tick crawling on human skin.
© iStock.com/RobertAx

Written by Peralee Knight

Updated: October 11, 2023

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The arrival of warmer weather is a welcome change from winter. Unfortunately, the warm and wet late spring and early summer weather come with some dangerous downsides. In temperate zones, late spring and early summer are when everyone’s least favorite parasite rears its ugly head!

Spring means it is tick season again, and these little bloodsuckers are a threat to people and pets alike.

Removing embedded ticks on your dog can be a challenge. This is because an embedded tick closely resembles a mole or a skin tag.

Therefore, it is crucial to get all the facts before attempting to remove embedded fully ticks on dogs.

When To Remove Embedded Ticks On Your Dog Yourself

Brown dog tick feeding (Rhipicephalus sanguineus). Brown dog ticks are arthropods that survive on the blood meal.

Removing ticks should be done carefully to minimize the risk of infection.


When should you remove embedded fully ticks on dogs yourself, and when should you take your dog to the vet? To answer that, you need all the facts about how to remove a tick. But there is more; you also need to know the symptoms of dangerous illnesses and the species that carry them. And of course, you need to know which situations you should never try to handle on your own.

First is a quick overview of the simplest process for basic tick removal. We will also look at what makes removing an embedded tick more complex. Then, you can decide if you would feel more comfortable letting the vet handle it!

How Long Can An Embedded Tick Live?

The duration of a tick’s attachment varies based on factors such as the tick species, its life stage, host immunity, and whether you perform daily tick checks. In general, when left undisturbed, larvae typically remain attached and feed for approximately 3 days, nymphs for 3-4 days, and adult females for 7-10 days.

Ticks naturally detach themselves after feeding on blood for a period of 3 to 6 days.

Leaving a tick’s head lodged in your (or your pet’s) skin does not elevate the risk of tick-borne disease. Nevertheless, a tick’s head left in your skin can raise the risk of infection, as the tick’s head and mouthparts carry harmful germs that you should not leave within your skin.

Simple Steps To Remove Ticks On Your Dog

The first thing to look for is just how deeply the tick is embedded under the skin of your dog. If only a portion of the tick is under the skin, you may be able to remove it easily. It is important to remember that squeezing the tick increases the risk of infection. This may result in forcing disease-causing pathogens into the bloodstream.

Regular tweezers that are common for personal use are not recommended due to the flat angled tips. Use fine-tipped tweezers to get a safe grip on the tick. You will also need an antiseptic to cleanse the wound and kill the tick.

For more detailed information on how to safely remove a tick on your dog, check out our article, What Kills Ticks On Dogs Instantly!

Embedded Fully Ticks on Dogs

It is a common belief that ticks can become completely embedded in your dog’s skin. Thankfully, this is a total myth! While the mouthparts of the tick can become deeply embedded in your dog’s skin, they cannot survive under the skin. However, small tick species or nymphs are so small that they can appear to do so. If you are not confident in your ability to remove a deeply embedded tick, seek the help of your veterinarian.

Tips For Removing Embedded Fully Ticks on Dogs

Removing a dog tick from cat skin with a tick remover tool.

For deeply embedded ticks, using a tick hook may be a safer alternative to standard fine-tipped tweezers.


If the tick is deeply embedded under your dog’s skin, removing it will be difficult for you and your dog. You will need to wear protective gloves, especially if the tick is swollen with blood. The risk of infection for you is much higher with a heavily swollen tick that may burst with pressure. Never attempt to remove a tick with your fingers, especially an embedded tick!

Many vets recommend the use of special tools rather than standard tweezers. Tick removal hooks like the Tick Tornado or the Tick Stick are designed to make removing an embedded or swollen tick easier. If the mouthparts of the tick cannot be safely removed, clean the area thoroughly and leave them. Keep the area clean and closely monitor your dog for signs of disease or infection.

These signs can appear up to 8 weeks after removal, and you should consult your vet immediately should they occur.

When To Take Your Dog To The Vet

Even if a tick has been removed, the risks of disease or infection are still a cause for concern. Some of the tick species that cause the most dangerous related illnesses in humans can also infect your dog.

Additionally, a few tick species carry diseases that are a particular threat to dogs. It is important for the health of your dog to know when you need to make a trip to the veterinarian!

The removal of one or two ticks can often be done at home if you keep a sharp eye out for illnesses. Any dog or other animal that has a multitude of ticks should always be taken to the vet or an emergency pet clinic! Not only is the risk of serious disease or infection much higher, but significant blood loss can also cause a host of other life-threatening conditions.

Your vet can take specific tests and bloodwork to determine whether an infection or disease is present and begin treatment immediately. Additionally, a professional is trained and equipped to handle the removal of multiple ticks safely.

The symptoms of an illness or infection from a tick bite may take up to 8 weeks to show up. It is crucial to keep a close eye on your dog’s behavior and regularly check the wound site. Keep in mind that even mild symptoms such as reddened skin near the wound, uncommon fatigue, or uncommon behavior in your dog could be a sign of a more severe problem. Examples of uncommon behavior might be:

  • Decreased activity
  • Heightened aggression
  • Excessive scratching, licking, or chewing, particularly near the wound
  • Signs of pain or distress such as howling, whining, or difficulty moving

Mild discomfort differs from the symptoms associated with illnesses spread by more dangerous tick species. As the symptoms of illness may vary based on the species of the tick, please reference each species in the section below for specific illnesses and symptoms.

Symptoms Of Tick-Related Illness By Species

  • Deer Ticks: This species is the number one carrier of Lyme disease, and the symptoms include swollen lymph nodes, painful joints, tiredness, and loss of appetite in dogs.
  • Wood Ticks: Some wood tick species carry Rocky Mountain and Colorado Spotted Fever, and the symptoms include poor appetite, fever, face or leg swelling, and muscle or joint pain in dogs. If not properly treated, RMSF can lead to serious illness or death.
  • American Dog Ticks/Brown Dog Ticks/Dog Ticks: The more common tick species found on dogs carry the risk of two infections that can be fatal for dogs. Ehrlichiosis is most common in the southeastern and southern U.S., and the symptoms can include swollen lymph nodes, weight loss, fever, and eye/nose discharge. Babesiosis is a parasite, and the symptoms include fever, dark urine, pale gums, lethargy, weakness, and yellowed skin.

Dealing With Ticks On Your Dog: Prevention Is Key!

frontline plus for dogs

The best way to deal with ticks on your dog is to prevent them!


The best way to keep your dog safe from ticks is by preventing them. There are many products available to both kill ticks on your dog and prevent them from attaching to your pet at all. Remember – the more you do to prevent ticks, the better the odds are of keeping your faithful friend safe and healthy!

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