How to Get Ticked Off! - Horses and Ticks

removing ticks from horses, equine guelph, how to get rid of a tick on my horse

Source: Equine Guelph

Ticks are a nuisance that can often go undetected. Because of the risk of disease transmission (Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, Equine piroplasmosis), it is important to frequently examine your horse for the presence of ticks, and to take steps to lower risk of exposure.

Knowing how to correctly remove a tick can also reduce the chance of infection. With over 40 recognized species of ticks in Canada, researchers are tracking their movements, keeping watch for exotic varieties, and conduction testing for tick-borne pathogens.

Hands-on grooming is recommended — you may not see the tick, but you may instead feel a little bump. Pay particular attention to the head, chest, belly, in between the legs, tail, and under the mane.

Be Prepared

Your first aid kit should be stocked with the supplies you need to remove ticks, including a tweezer or a tick puller, gloves, a container for the tick (e.g., plastic baggie, pill vial), and a gentle antiseptic skin cleaner.

Tick Removal Steps

1. Put on your gloves.

2. Clear the hair away from the tick.

  • If you are using tweezers, position the tweezers to firmly grasp at the site of tick attachment without grabbing your horse’s skin. In one steady firm movement (and without squishing the tick), pull upwards (perpendicular to your horse’s body) to remove the tick. You will want to use tweezers near the tick’s head, not its body.
  • If you are using a tick-puller, follow the instructions on the package. Most tick-pullers have a notch that you can slide under the tick to grab it and easily remove it.
removing ticks from horses, equine guelph, how to get rid of a tick on my horse
Removal of an engorged tick using a tick-puller. Photo: iStock/Sasel77
3. Do not dig or pick at your horse’s skin to make sure you got it all out. This can increase the risk of a skin infection.
4. Place the tick in the storage container.
5. Clean the bite area with a gentle antiseptic solution.
6. Remove your gloves, wash your hands, and clean your tweezers or tick puller.
7. Report your tick finding on the Pet Tick Tracker or
Make your facility less attractive to ticks by getting rid of brush piles and trimming the grass around paddocks. On trail rides, keep to cleared paths and stay away from tall grass. Riders should wear clothing that covers their arms and legs. Letting horses graze in overgrown pastures is also a risk factor.

removing ticks from horses, equine guelph, how to get rid of a tick on my horse

Ticks are most active in spring and summer, and are usually found in wooded areas that provide plenty of shade, or areas overgrown with tall grasses. Photo: iStock/Kyslynskyy

Topicals mentioned in 2018 Research Study

Chemical protection of horses against tick attachment includes wipe-on, pour-on, and spray-on products containing cypermethrin, permethrin, pyrethrins, or piperonyl butoxide, which can provide at least several hours of protection. Dust, dirt, perspiration, and water shorten protection time, making reapplication necessary. Permethrin and other spot-on products have been subjectively successful in repelling ticks. As always, talk to your veterinarian about prevention plans and the level of risk in your area.
Note: If using a product containing permethrin, it is important to be aware that this chemical is highly toxic to cats.

Related: How to Make a First Aid Kit for Horses


Information for this fact sheet has been sourced from:

2018 Research Study: Borrelia burgdorferi Infection and Lyme Disease in North American Horses: A Consensus Statement

Published with the kind permission of Equine Guelph

Main Photo: An adult female deer tick. Credit: iStock/RistoO