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engorged tick

Engorged Tick: What To Do if You Find One on Your Pet

If you work outdoors or you have a pet that recently had tick problems, then you’ve probably encountered engorged ticks and are wondering how you can completely remove them.

Ticks are blood-sucking parasitic arachnids that can be found in wooded and grassy areas. Although they’re not considered harmful to humans, they’re capable of transmitting diseases to animals and people.

For dogs, ticks can cause Lyme disease, rocky mountain spotted fever, tularemia, tick paralysis, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis and tick-borne encephalitis.

Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in dogs, and it can cause a range of symptoms including fever, lameness, and loss of appetite. If left untreated, it can cause swollen lymph nodes, and painful joints as well as damage to the nervous system, kidneys and heart.

So how exactly does a tick get engorged, how do you spot them, and how do you remove them?

Engorged Tick: What is it?

Engorged ticks are ticks that have already fed on the blood of their host. This process can take up to several days, during which time the tick will swell to many times its original size. 

Once it is fully engorged, the tick will fall off of its host and enter into a dormant state until it is ready to mate. 

Ticks must be engorged in order to reproduce, and they typically begin this process when their host is no longer around. This is most commonly seen in the fall and early winter months, as animals are starting to prepare for hibernation and spend less time outside. However, there are species of ticks, like the deer tick, that can remain active all year round as long as the temperature is above freezing.

How to Remove an Engorged Tick From a Dog?

If you find an engorged tick on your dog, it is important to remove it as soon as possible. 

Ticks can transmit a number of diseases not just to dogs, but also to humans, so it’s best to take precautions and remove them as quickly as possible. 

There are a few different ways to remove a tick, but the most important thing is to be careful so that you don’t leave the head of the tick embedded in the skin. If this happens, it can increase the risk of developing an infection. 

Here’s how you can remove an engorged tick from your dog:

  1. The first step in removing a tick from your dog is to thoroughly check their coat for ticks frequently. Ticks can easily go unnoticed if you’re not careful, so it is important to be vigilant when searching your dog’s coat and checking for any signs of an infestation.
  1. The next step is to use a tick removal tool. Tweezers will do but you can also find a specialized tick remover in your local pet store.
  2.  Carefully place the tick removal tool over the tick and slowly pull until it releases from your dog’s skin. If you’re having difficulty removing the tick, you can try using a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol to help loosen the tick’s grip.
  3. Once the tick has been removed, disinfect the tick bite and wash your hands thoroughly. You can then dispose of the tick by placing it in a sealed bag or container.

If you notice any signs of illness in your dog after removing a tick, be sure to contact your veterinarian right away.

How to Prevent Tick Infestation

Ticks can be a pet owner’s worst nightmare. Tick prevention should be at the top of your list whether you’re a new or an expert pet owner. There are steps that you can take to prevent ticks from harming your dog. One of the most effective ways to do this is by using tick prevention products like flea and tick sprays or collars. 

These products contain ingredients that kill ticks before they have a chance to bite your dog.

Another way to prevent ticks is by checking your dog’s fur and skin regularly for signs of the critter. Be vigilant about any signs like tiny black dots or small red bumps. 

If you find a tick on your dog, you can follow the steps above and always make sure to dispose of the tick in a sealed container.

Different Kinds of Ticks: Deer Tick and Dog Tick

There are many different kinds of ticks, but the three most common types in North America are the deer tick, the American dog tick, and the brown dog tick.

Deer tick
Deer Tick (Image from Pixabay)

The deer tick is the most well-known type of tick, as it is the primary carrier of Lyme disease. Deer ticks are small, dark brown or black insects that attach themselves to their hosts in late spring or early summer.

They’re usually found in wooded areas, particularly where grassy areas give way to forest shrubbery. Once attached to a host, deer ticks feed for up to seven days before detaching and falling off the body. Deer ticks can be found all over the United States, but they are most common in the New England states, the Mid-Atlantic region, and North Central states.

photo of american dog tick
American Dog Tick (image from

The American dog tick is found throughout the United States, with some species being more prevalent in certain parts of the country than others. These ticks attach themselves to dogs, cattle, and other large mammals for feeding purposes. Furthermore, these insects can also transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Tularemia to humans.

Finally, the brown dog tick is most commonly found in homes with dogs as they prefer this type of host over any other animals. Brown dog ticks are capable of transmitting several dangerous diseases to both humans and dogs, such as ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

In addition to these three major types of ticks, there are dozens more that can be found in different parts of the world. In order to avoid any health risks associated with these insects, it is important to take preventative measures such as letting your dog wear tick collar or putting anti-tick medicine on them. 

As for you, you can prevent ticks by wearing long-sleeved clothing when spending time outdoors and regularly checking your body for ticks after spending time in areas where they may be present. 

What Happens If Your Dog Has a Tick?

what happens if your dog has a tick
Photo by Mathew Coulton

When a dog is bitten by a tick, the parasite attaches itself to the skin and feeds on its blood. This process can cause significant irritation and inflammation around the tick bite, which in turn may lead to infection. 

If a dog is allergic to tick saliva, the tick bite can also trigger a severe reaction that can be life-threatening.

In addition, when a tick feeds on an animal, it can transfer diseases through the blood. Most people know that ticks can transmit Lyme disease, but they can also carry other diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever and ehrlichiosis.

Diseases Transmitted by Ticks

Here are a number of tick-borne diseases that can be transmitted through a tick bite.

Diseases from ticks
Photo from

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a serious condition that can have long-term effects on both canines and humans. Tick transmitted Lyme disease can cause dogs to experience a wide range of symptoms, including joint pain, fatigue, and muscle aches. If left untreated, it can cause kidney and heart problems as well as issues with the nervous system.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is another common tick-borne disease in dogs, and it can cause symptoms such as fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and muscle pain. 


Another disease that can be transmitted through a tick bite is Ehrlichiosis. Though less common, it can still be harmful to dogs and can cause symptoms such as fever, anemia, increased thirst and bleeding problems. 

This disease can be diagnosed by doing a blood test to detect the presence of the bacteria. Treatment usually involves medications that help your dog’s immune system fight off the infection. It may also involve other types of treatments such as IV fluids if your dog is severely dehydrated.


Anaplasmosis is another tick-borne disease that can infect both dogs and humans. It is caused by the bacterium Anaplasma phagocytophilum and is transmitted to dogs through the bite of an infected tick. 

Symptoms of anaplasmosis in dogs include fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, and pneumonia. 

Treatment for anaplasmosis in dogs is typically a course of antibiotics, but because symptoms are sometimes mild and animals can be carriers without showing any signs, it is important to treat both symptomatic dogs and asymptomatic carriers.

Can You Pop an Engorged Tick?

Yes, you can pop an engorged tick but it should no longer be attached to the skin of the host.

Just to be clear, you shouldn’t squeeze an engorged tick while its head is still stuck in the host as it will be forced to secrete all its contents back into the skin. While you won’t feel a tick bite, it can be very dangerous as ticks carry many diseases and injecting infections into the host’s skin is a huge possibility.

You can pop a tick inside a plastic container where you won’t be exposed to the dangerous infections it carries.

Heat is also an effective way to kill it. However, the safest way is just to buy a tick killer spray, not only does it kill ticks but it can be used as a repellant as well.

How long does it take for a tick to fall off a dog?

Most ticks use cement that holds their hosts securely. The tick doesn’t fall when it’s having its blood meal (feeding) or rubbed. It will eat rapidly for several days then degrade and fall away after engorgement.

This process takes anywhere from several days to a week. A tick bite can cause Lyme disease and other infections to develop so remove it immediately to prevent any diseases from being transmitted.

Tick Prevention Tips: How to Keep Your Home Tick-Free

Fortunately, there are several ways to prevent ticks from entering your home, spreading diseases, and preventing tick bites.

Below are some tick prevention tips that you could easily follow.

  • Keep your garden and backyard clean
    Keep grass trimmed and woodpiles away from homes to reduce the number of ticks around your property. Make sure to keep your backyard safe and fun for your pets by not only providing shade and shelter but also eliminating hiding spots for fleas and ticks.
  • Use tick repellant
    If you plan to spend time outdoors, use tick repellent or wear long sleeves and pants that cover your skin. These items can prevent ticks from reaching your skin, as well as help you spot them before they attach.
  • Check clothing for ticks
    When returning home from an area with many ticks, be sure to check all clothing for ticks and remove them immediately.
  • Shower immediately
    Showering soon after returning from an area with ticks can also help prevent them from attaching to your skin.

These precautions can help reduce your risk of being bitten by a tick and contracting a disease. It is also a good idea to consult with your doctor if you have any concerns about tick bites to prevent Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections. Similarly, bring your dog to the vet at the earliest signs of tick infection.

When to Call Your Doctor

It can be annoying and alarming to see an engorged tick, however, not every tick bite will cause an illness. However, if you do develop symptoms such as fever or flu, then contact your physician as soon as possible.

Similarly, if you see any signs of ticks on your pet, bring them to a vet so that they can prescribe an anti-tick medication and then immediately clean your home.

If you do see signs of ticks in your home, you can vacuum every day to remove adults, eggs, and larvae. Steam your carpets and sanitize every corner of every room.

Consider having your pets stay indoors if possible. Make your home safe for your pets not only by pet-proofing your house but by also making sure that they’re safe from fleas and ticks as well. Follow the tip prevention tips above to make sure that your home and pets stay tick-free.


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