Summary: In this blog, we learn all about how to spot, treat and remove a tick from a dog. We’ll discover what the symptoms of ticks on dogs are, how to get a tick off a dog, and all about tick prevention for dogs. Read on to find out more about ticks on dogs…
What Does A Tick Look Like On A Dog?
Ticks are eight-legged, small egg-shaped insects that vary in size (from 1mm to 1cm). They’re a grey/brown color and feed on blood… Lovely! Their body becomes darker in color and grows larger after they feed. Unlike fleas, they don’t jump and they don’t fly.
You’re most likely to spot a tick embedded in your dog’s fur around their head, feet, ears, groin, armpits, or neck.
Tick On Dog Symptoms
You can check your dog for ticks by running your hand over their fur and feeling for small bumps, particularly around the head, feet, ears, groin, armpits, or neck areas.
On occasion, a tick may enter your dog’s ears. If you spot your dog shaking their head a lot, have a careful look inside. If you can’t see anything and they continue to shake their head, get them to a vet who can help.
Ticks are typically found in woodland, grassland, and heaths, but can also be found in your back yard, particularly if you live in an area with an abundance of wildlife. Ticks are most common from Spring through to Fall, but can be active all year round.
How To Take A Tick Off A Dog
If you find a tick on your dog, it has to be removed as ticks can carry diseases. However, this must be done the correct way or parts of the tick could be left attached to your dog’s skin which can cause inflammation or infection that may then require antibiotics or even surgery to remove it.
If you find a tick on your dog’s skin you must not:
- Squeeze the tick’s body
- Attempt to burn them off
- Poke/prod at them
- Pull the tick straight off
- Attempt to suffocate them with petroleum jelly/another substance
To remove a tick from a dog, you should purchase a tick-removal device available from most pet stores and retailers. These enable you to twist the tick off your dog, which is the safest method of removal. Tick removal should always be done carefully and slowly to protect your dog from the tick regurgitating the blood they’ve sucked, or having parts of it left behind in your dog’s skin:
- Wash your hands and stay calm.
- Gently part the fur around where the tick is
- Slowly push your tick remover device underneath the tick
- When it feels like you have a firm grasp of the tick, begin to twist clockwise as many times as needed until the tick comes loose
- Assess your dog’s skin to be sure the entirety of the tick has been removed
- Wrap the tick in a piece of tissue and dispose of it. Then, wash your hands thoroughly again with antibacterial soap
- Next, cleanse the affected area with gentle antiseptic that’s suitable for dogs. Keep an eye on the area for a couple of days and if there are any signs of inflammation, soreness or your dog seems unwell, seek a consultation with your vet as soon as possible
Tick Prevention For Dogs
To prevent your dog from contracting ticks there are things you can do. Firstly, regular flea, worm, and tick control is an absolutely vital part of being a responsible pet parent and protecting you, your dog, and others they come into contact with, so if they’re not already receiving regular control, it’s time to check in with your vet to get your beloved pet into their parasite prevention routine.
Preventative treatments come in tablet form, injection (administered by the vet) or an oily substance applied to the back of their neck (which you can apply yourself) and usually is required every few weeks. Each method deters the fleas and ticks from making a home in your pup’s fur and skin. Ticks are absolutely no fun for both you and your pet to deal with and an essential part of caring for a dog properly, as these parasites can carry and transmit a range of other diseases, like Lyme Disease.
It’s particularly important to protect your pooch with a preventative if you’re traveling abroad as ticks from other countries can carry other serious diseases.
Alternatively, there are also tick and flea repellent collars available on the market. If you’re unsure what to go for or which brand would work best for your dog, talk to your vet.
Always check your dog’s skin and fur after any nature walk you take together.
PetLab Co. Pro Tip: Always read the instructions thoroughly when administering tick, flea, and worm preventatives to your dog, particularly if you also have a pet cat. Some ticks treatments that are designed for dogs can be fatal for cats to come into contact with.
What Is Lyme Disease And How Does It Affect Dogs?
Lyme disease is a serious bacterial infection that is often carried by ticks. Symptoms of Lyme Disease in dogs include:
- High temperature/fever
- Lameness (which can be intermittent)
- Reluctance to eat
- Low mood
- Swollen joints and/or lymph nodes
- A bullseye-style rash around where the tick bite was
If your pet presents any of these symptoms and you suspect Lyme Disease, call your vet as a matter of urgency. If Lyme Disease in dogs is left untreated or is misdiagnosed it can leave your pooch with lifelong chronic health complications… This is why preventative treatment is vital.
Can Ticks Bite Humans?
Yes, ticks can bite humans. So if you walk your dog in woodland often, it’s probably worth wearing long sleeve tops and tucking your pants into your socks to help protect your skin from ticks penetrating it. You can also use an insect repellant spray over yourself before you go out with your pup.
Always check your body for ticks on your clothes before you return home/get in the car. Brush them off your clothes as quickly as you can.
It’s possible for humans to contract Lyme Disease from tick bites too. If you have been bitten by a tick or have been walking in woodland and develop headaches, fatigue, joint/muscle pain, and/or a circular rash, contact your doctor who will most likely prescribe you some antibiotics. If you ignore the signs, you are at a heightened risk of developing arthritis, meningitis (viral-like), damage to your nerves, and/or facial palsy.
“Ticks On Dogs” Blue Cross, Nov 10. 2021 https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-advice/ticks-on-dogs
Author Abraham, Marc “Ticks” The Kennel Club UK https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/health-and-dog-care/health/health-and-care/a-z-of-health-and-care-issues/ticks/