Ticks are external, blood-feeding parasites that can be found in woods and forests throughout the world. They hide in the tall grass, seeking their prey by the use of heat and carbon dioxide sensors. When a host animal passes nearby, they attach themselves by clinging to fur or clothing. Though ticks are not capable of jumping, they do drop from high places onto passing hosts. Once a tick has found a host, it will migrate to an area of the body that has little hair---such as between the toes, near the eyes, behind the legs, or in the ears. Dogs are a favourite target for ticks and the ears are a common location to find them attached and feeding. Care must be taken with the removal of a tick as they are known to carry diseases and blood born pathogens. To safely remove a tick from your dog's ear, follow the steps below.
Put your gloves on. Fold the dog's ear back, if possible. Douse a cotton swab or cotton ball in rubbing alcohol.
Rub the wet cotton swab on the area surrounding the tick attachment site and on the tick itself.
With the tweezers, grab the tick, getting as close to the head as possible. Do not---absolutely do not---touch the tick with your fingers.
Using gentle, but firm pressure, pull on the tick, rocking it back and forth to loosen its grip. When ticks attach to a site, they excrete a special adhesive from their jaw that improves their ability to fasten to the host. When you have a good hold on the tick, pull the tick out. It is not unusual to remove a bit of skin with the tick. Be ready---your dog will yelp and try to run away.
Examine the tick. If you have removed the body, but not the head, try to remove it with the tweezers. If you cannot get the head, remove as much as possible. It is not life threatening to your dog if the head remains, however the dog's immune system will dislodge the tick's head by reacting as if it had an infection. The site will become red and inflamed. Again, this is not a cause for alarm.
Dispose of the tick by wrapping it in a tissue and flushing it down the toilet. Do not keep it. With a clean cotton swab, apply another coat of alcohol to the dog's ear to prevent infection at the attachment site.
Check the dog for more ticks. If you've found one, odds are good that you'll find more. Once you're sure the dog has no more ticks, give it a bath in shampoo that is specifically medicated to prevent ticks and fleas.
If you're having trouble getting a good hold on the tick, and if you can get your dog to sit still for it, take a cotton ball and cover it with liquid soap. Apply the soapy cotton directly to the tick and hold for 30 seconds. This sometimes causes the tick to release its grip.
Do not crush ticks. There is no telling how many different kinds of blood they are carrying inside them and from what sources. In addition to blood born pathogens, ticks carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme Disease. Be alert after tick removal for signs of illness. Do not attempt to get a tick to "back out" by holding a burning or recently lit match to it. It won't work and you'll burn your dog's ear.