Why does my dog have a lump under a tick bite?

Ticks are a hazard to you and your dog. They are found throughout the U.S. There are 850 tick species around the world, with 90 of them being found in the U.S.

Around half of the counties in the U.S. have species of ticks that carry Lyme disease. This is concerning, and makes tick prevention important for your pet’s health.

Of course, even the most responsible pet owners can encounter a tick on their dog. In most cases, a tick will not cause long-term issues for your pooch. 

However, it is possible for them to develop an infection or a disease from the tick bite. If your dog has a lump after a tick bite, it’s important to determine the cause so you can seek proper treatment. 

Why does my dog have a lump under a tick bite?

There are a few reasons why your pooch may have a lump under a tick bite. In many cases, it’s simply a reaction to the tick bite that will heal within a day or two. 

However, a lump can indicate a more serious problem, including infection or Lyme disease. 

Inflammation

When a tick bites your dog, inflammation naturally occurs around the bite. When the tick is removed, the inflammation will remain. 

When a tick bites, its saliva goes into the skin. The body creates inflammation as a way of trying to remove the foreign substance. This is completely normal, and nothing to worry about. 

If this is the cause of the lump, it will be small. The lump should be the size of a pimple. It should begin to subside within 24-48 hours after the tick is removed. 

If the bite remains the same or looks worse over time, this isn’t the cause of the lump. 

Retained Tick Head 

If the lump doesn’t go down after a day or two but doesn’t look progressively worse, it’s probably a retained tick head. When a tick is removed, the head can come away from the body. 

This is because the tick’s head is securely attached by it’s mouth. This is how it holds onto its victim to feed. If you pull the body instead of the head, the body may tear away from the head. 

The body is then removed, but the head is still in your dog’s skin. This causes the lump and inflammation to remain until the head is removed.  

Infected Bite 

Any break in your dog’s skin, including a tick bite, can become infected. Ticks carry bacteria, and the broken skin is susceptible to bacteria your pooch may encounter naturally. 

If the bite looks worse over time, it’s probably infected. Other signs of infection include oozing pus, a foul odor, heat, fever, and lethargy. 

The most obvious initial signs are that the bite will continue to swell. It will likely feel hot to the touch as well. Heat often indicates infection. 

Allergy

You may have heard of a flea bite allergy, but your dog can also be allergic to ticks. This causes their body to over respond to the bite. The bite will appear inflamed. 

It may be extremely itchy, causing your pooch to scratch the bite. This scratching can make the bite worse, and increases the chances of an infection developing.

It’s also possible, although rare, for your dog to have a systematic reaction to the bite. This means that they experience allergy symptoms in different areas of their body. 

This can include hives, hair loss or hot spots, swollen face, and difficulty breathing. Nasal symptoms like sneezing can also occur. 

Connective Tissue Production 

If your pooch has a lump long after a tick bite, it may be an overproduction of connective tissue. This is similar to a scar. It will feel like a small hard knot. 

Some of these will subside over the years, and some will stay the same. As long as it’s not growing bigger or changing shape, it’s perfectly fine. 

Tick Diseases 

The most concerning reason a dog has a lump after a tick bite is a tick borne disease. The most common diseases carried by ticks are Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted fever. 

Both of these diseases can affect both humans and dogs. 

The symptoms of disease can appear similar to infection, so it’s important to consult with your vet. The earlier your pooch gets treated, the better. 

Symptoms of Lyme Disease include fever, swollen lymph nodes, weakness, joint pain, and lameness. In addition, Rocky Mountain Fever can cause vomiting and neurological issues, including confusion and disorientation.

Is it normal for a dog to have a bump after tick removal?

It is normal for a dog ot have a bump after removing a tick. However, the bump should begin to go down within a few days. In some cases, a small lump can remain indefinitely due to connective tissue overproduction.

If it’s getting worse, oozing, or hot to the touch, this isn’t a normal reaction. 

What to do if my dog has a lump under a tick bite?

If your pooch has a lump after a tick bite, what you do will depend on the situation and symptoms they are experiencing. 

Remove the Tick 

If the tick is still there, the first thing you should do is remove it. You can use regular tweezers for removal. If ticks are a frequent issue in your area, it’s a great idea to invest in a tick removal product. 

These are similar to tweezers, but make the process easier for you. Place the tweezers underneath the tick’s body. Pinch it with the tweezers. Pull up with a firm, steady motion. 

Do not jerk. This can cause the head to stay in. Depending on how long the tick has been on your dog, and the species, it can take some effort to remove. 

Save the Tick 

If you remove the tick, you should save it. Simply place it in a Ziploc bag. Your vet can test the tick for diseases. This can give you a clue to your dog’s risk of developing a tick borne disease. 

However, a positive tick doesn’t necessarily mean a positive pooch. Your vet can also identify the tick. They will then know what diseases the tick can carry. 

Treating the Bite 

Once the tick is removed and stored, it’s time to clean the bite.

Wash the Area

Begin by washing the bite with soap and water. A mild cleanser like Dawn works well. You can also use a wound wash. 

Antiseptic

Next, you can apply an antisepctic. Iodine is a good choice, and is safe for dogs. If you don’t have iodine on hand, you may need to pick up a dog wound cleanser. 

A salt solution can also be a gentle antiseptic. To do this, mix 1 teaspoon of salt with 2 cups of water. You can then use it to rinse the wound. 

Cream for Relief 

For comfort, you can use hydrocortisone cream. This will calm inflammation and help  relieve itching. 

If you suspect your pooch has a mild allergy to the bite, Bendadryl cream can be helpful. This contains an antihistamine which helps relieve itching and swelling associated with allergies. 

Monitor Your Dog 

Once the tick has been removed and the bite has been cared for, you’ll simply need to monitor your dog. Watch for signs of increased swelling or heat from the bite. 

You’ll also need to watch for signs your dog is not feeling well. These can include lethargy, stiffness, and loss of appetite. 

Swelling should begin to go down soon after removal, but healing can take a few weeks in some cases. 

If you see anything concerning, you’ll need to speak with your vet. 

When to see a vet about a dog having a lump under a tick bite?

Many tick bites resolve on their own without veterinary treatment. However, there are signs that the problem may be more serious than a simple bite. 

These need to be evaluated and treated by your vet. 

Systematic Symptoms 

One sign you should take your pooch to the vet are systematic symptoms. These are symptoms that can occur throughout the body, not just at the site of the bite. 

This includes fever, lethargy, swollen lymph nodes, and joint pain. In the case of an allergic reaction, your dog may experience hives, sneezing, or difficulty breathing. 

Any of these signs after a tick bite mean you should get your pooch checked out by your vet. 

Swelling 

A small amount of swelling after a bite is normal. However, if the bump is large or continues to swell after the tick is removed, this may be a sign of a serious problem. 

Oozing or Discharge 

Oozing or discharge is a sign of infection, which needs to be treated with antibiotics. Fast treatment is important, because the infection may get worse over time. 

Follow Your Instincts 

There is absolutely no substitute for following your instincts. If something seems not quite right with the bite or your pooch, give your vet a call. 

It’s always better to be safe than sorry. The earlier any potential problem is diagnosed, the easier and more effective treatment is.