What to Do About Ticks on Dogs

You’ve probably found a tick on your dog at some point and not known what to do. As a dog owner, it’s important to be clued up on ticks – those pesky little critters that latch onto your pooch and feed on their blood. In this article, we’ll give you the lowdown on everything ticks, from how to spot them and remove them safely to ways you can help protect your furry friend. With some handy tips and tricks, you’ll be well equipped to keep ticks off your dog this summer and beyond. So read on to get the full scoop and become a tick expert!

What Are Ticks and Why Are They Dangerous for Dogs?

Ticks are small parasitic arachnids that feed on the blood of mammals, birds, and reptiles. There are many species of ticks found around the world, but only a few varieties commonly infest dogs. The most common types of ticks that attach to dogs are deer ticks, American dog ticks, and brown dog ticks. These ticks can carry diseases that may infect your dog when they bite.

Deer Ticks

Deer ticks, also known as blacklegged ticks, are most commonly found in wooded, brushy areas in many parts of the U.S. and Canada. They are responsible for transmitting Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases to dogs. Lyme disease can cause fever, joint inflammation, and kidney damage in dogs if left untreated.

American Dog Ticks

American dog ticks are found throughout North America and can spread diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which causes fever, joint pain, and damage to blood vessels in dogs. These ticks are most active during spring and summer when the weather is warm.

Brown Dog Ticks

The brown dog tick is found worldwide and feeds primarily on dogs. This tick can spread diseases like canine babesiosis, also known as “dog malaria,” which destroys red blood cells and causes anaemia in dogs. Brown dog ticks tend to infest homes, kennels, and yards, and they can survive for months between feedings.

Removing ticks from your dog promptly and using tick preventatives is the best way to reduce the risk of disease transmission from these pesky parasites. Consult your vet about the best tick prevention for dogs in your area.

How to Check Your Dog for Ticks

Once you’ve been outside with your dog, especially in wooded or brushy areas, do a thorough tick check. Run your hands through their fur, lifting it to check the skin underneath. Pay close attention to their head, neck, ears, and legs where ticks often attach.

Check everywhere

Don’t forget to check between toes, under collars, and in armpits or groyne areas where ticks can hide. Look for small dark dots on the skin that may be attached ticks, especially flat, oval ticks in the nymph stage. Adult ticks tend to be darker and more round.

Remove any ticks promptly

Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the dog’s skin as possible. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick as this can cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin. Disinfect the area thoroughly after removing the tick.

Watch for symptoms

Even with regular tick checks, it’s possible to miss an attached tick. Check your dog for symptoms like fatigue, joint pain, or a rash in the weeks following outdoor activity. These can indicate a tick-borne disease and you should consult your vet right away for testing and treatment.

Keeping your yard tick-free, using vet-approved prevention, doing regular tick checks, and knowing how to properly remove ticks can help keep your dog healthy and safe during tick season. Staying vigilant and acting quickly if you spot symptoms will give you both peace of mind.

Preventing Ticks on Dogs: Repellents, Vaccines and Other Tips

Preventing ticks on dogs should be a top priority for any dog owner. There are several effective ways to help avoid ticks attaching to dogs in the first place.

Use Tick Repellents

Applying a tick repellent, such as a spray-on solution or spot-on treatment, helps deter ticks from clinging onto dogs. Repellents containing permethrin or etofenprox are popular and effective options. These chemicals are toxic to ticks but safe for dogs when used as directed. Repellents need to be reapplied regularly, especially after swimming or bathing.

Talk to Your Vet About Vaccines

Certain vaccines, such as the Lyme disease vaccine, may help prevent some diseases transmitted by ticks. While the vaccine won’t repel ticks, it can reduce the risk of a tick-borne illness if a tick does bite the dog. Pet owners should discuss available tick-borne disease vaccines with their vet to determine if they are right for their dog based on lifestyle and location.

Perform Regular Tick Checks

No repellent or vaccine is 100% effective, so pet owners should make checking their dogs for ticks a daily routine, especially after being outside. Run your hands over the dog’s body, including in and around the ears, under the collar, under legs and between toes. Remove any ticks promptly using a tick removal tool.

Restrict Access to Tick Habitats

Limiting a dog’s access to wooded or brushy areas where ticks are most prevalent can help reduce the risk of tick attachment. Keep dogs on walking trails when outside and out of overgrown yards or fields. Ticks may also infest yards, so keeping grass mowed and clearing brush or leaf litter around the yard can make the environment less tick-friendly.

Taking a multi-pronged approach to prevention, with the use of repellents, vaccines, tick checks and limiting access to tick habitats, provides the most comprehensive protection against ticks for dogs. While prevention isn’t foolproof, consistent diligence can significantly reduce health risks to dogs from these pesky parasites.

How to Safely Remove Ticks From Dogs

Removing ticks from dogs requires care and precision. The key is to remove the tick as soon as possible without aggravating it. Using fine-tipped tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the dog’s skin as possible. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick as this can cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin.

After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with disinfectant or soap and water. Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.

Examine the tick

Once removed, examine the tick to determine if it was attached or engorged. Engorged ticks that have been attached for longer than 24 hours can transmit pathogens. Monitor your dog closely for several weeks. Ticks that have not fed or have fed for less than 24 hours are unlikely to have transmitted pathogens.

Seek medical care

See your vet if you notice any symptoms in your dog such as:

  • A lump or swelling at the site of the tick bite
  • Lameness or joint pain
  • Anorexia or lethargy
  • Fever

Also check with your vet about using tick prevention medication, especially during peak tick season. Preventative medication, prompt removal of ticks, and vigilance for symptoms are the best ways to safeguard dogs against tick-borne diseases.

In the end, educating yourself on proper tick removal and dog tick prevention can help provide peace of mind for dog owners during peak tick season. With care and precaution, you can maintain your dog’s health and continue enjoying outdoor adventures together.

Ticks on Dogs FAQ: Common Questions Answered

Ticks are a common problem for dogs and their owners. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about ticks answered.

How do ticks get on dogs?

Ticks crawl onto dogs from grass, bushes, and wooded areas. They do not jump or fly. Ticks detect a host by sensing body heat, vibration, breath, and scent. Once attached to the skin, ticks feed on the dog’s blood.

What are the symptoms of ticks on dogs?

Often, the first signs an owner may notice are a tick visibly attached to the dog’s skin or irritation where a tick has attached. Dogs may scratch or lick the area. Owners should inspect their dog’s skin regularly for ticks, especially after being outside. Ticks can transmit diseases, so prompt removal is important.

How do I remove a tick from my dog?

To remove a tick, use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the dog’s skin as possible. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick, as this can cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with disinfectant or soap and water.

Should I get my dog tested for tick-borne diseases?

If a tick has been attached for over 24 hours, there is a risk of disease transmission. Owners should monitor their dog for symptoms like fever, lethargy, limping or joint pain. It is a good idea to have the dog tested for Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis and other tick-borne diseases, especially if symptoms develop. Early treatment of tick-borne diseases is critical to minimising health impacts.

By performing regular tick checks, prompt removal and testing as recommended by a vet, owners can help keep their dogs safe from the problems associated with ticks. Staying on a vet-approved flea and tick preventative is also highly recommended.


So there you have it folks, everything you need to know about those pesky little ticks that love to latch onto our furry friends. Whilst they can’t be avoided completely, with vigilance and prompt removal if found, the risks can be minimised. Keep your dog’s coat short during tick season, check them over thoroughly after walks, invest in a tick removal tool and some repellent treatments. And if symptoms do arise, don’t delay in getting them seen by a vet. Do all this and you’ll be giving your pooch the best protection against these blood-sucking parasites. Our dogs give us so much love and joy, so it’s only right we take good care of them in return and guard them against these little vampires!