Skip to content

August 4, 2012

Ear tick Removal

by Melissa
Looking through my horse's ears.

I approached my horse one evening to find her acting as though she was going crazy. She was shaking her head, raising it very high and not letting anyone near her head to figure out what was going wrong. We figured out quickly, something was in her ear.  Usually quite gentle, when we would go near her ear, she would raise he head so high and powerfully, that she would shift the hitching post that was cemented into the ground.


Little did I know, the ear is a common attachment point for the tick, and once attached, they can travel far into the canal. If left untreated, the irritation caused by the tick, can cause the horse to damage it’s own ear through near-continuous shaking and rubbing. How can the tick be removed from the horse?

Hand Removal: If you horse will allow you near his head (there is a good chance that he will not), then the tweezer method is the fastest way to remove a tick. Have a friend steady, and hold your horse while you identify the tick’s attachment point with your finger and remove the tick with a tweezer. Once removed, it is best that you make sure he is very dead. Because ticks carry disease, it is recommended to keep the dead tick in a designated baggie or container, in case the horse were to show signs of disease at a later date. The tick’s body has a much higher percentage of the potential pathogen, and as such will be easier and faster for the veterinarian to test, should he suspect a tick-borne disease later on.


Suffocation: Tick, like other insects must breathe. That said, there are a number of ways to flush him out. An old cowboy, advised baby oil, although I would consult with your veterinarian prior to trying that trick. Another idea that was suggested was to utilize a cotton swab doused in alcohol as that too will suffocate out the tick.


Pesticides: A number of traditional fly sprays appear to be effective against both flys and ticks. It is my belief that our unwanted friends develop resistance to older compounds, so it is best to identify newer compounds for use. Oil-based compounds last longer on the skin, therefore a tick repellant like Equispot may be your best bet. This product may be applied near the ear and may flush out the tick. Other products may exist that can be directly applied to the ear canal. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian or the manufacturer before use.


Prevention: Once you and your horse has experienced this terrible infestation once, it is not something you will want to experience again. Here are steps you can take to prevent re-infestation:

  • Check your horse daily for ticks. The best way to find them, is to run your hand over your horse’s body, paying particular attention to the horse’s groin, legs, and face. Remove the tick before it ever gets to the ear.
  • Wear a fly mask with ears. Many horses appear to lose their fly mask on a regular basis, but for those who manage to keep them on, this approach can very much help.
  • If you are not showing, and it is unecessasry, do not remove the air in the horse’s ear canal. This hair is the horse’s natural defense against unwanted invasion.
  • Pesticides can be applied to prevent infestation. Popular fly spray appears to work to repel the ticks.

    Looking through my horse’s ears.










Other tick-related articles by the author:

4 Common Myths about Ticks and the Diseases they Carry

Lyme Disease Symptoms, Prevention and Misdiagnosis

Comments are closed.