How to Check Your Dog for Ticks

Ticks are terrible little parasites that carry multiple, nasty diseases that can affect both animals and people. Ticks are almost so common, people sometimes dismiss them as a concern, but it’s so important for pet parents to take ticks seriously. To protect your dog from tick-borne disease, it’s important you know where to be checking for ticks, and how often. I decided to reach out to Dr. Mike Paul, who gave me some excellent tips that I share in the video below.

Ticks are still here
While the weather is changing and our summer activities are winding down, that doesn’t mean ticks are going into hibernation. According to a study from the Journal of Clinical Investigation in 2010, some disease-carrying ticks have actually become immune to the cold because they’ve developed a type of anti-freeze glycoprotein to survive in harsh conditions. How scary is that? Read more about ticks and cold weather here >>

Where should you be checking for ticks, and how often?
When my dog Harley was diagnosed with Lyme disease 2 years ago, I knew I had to step my game up when it came to checking her for ticks. As demonstrated in the video above, Dr. Paul says that important places to check your dog include:

  • Between the toes
  • Inside the ears and around the ear folds
  • Under the chin and neck area
  • Groin and armpits

Really any places that look like good hiding spots probably are! Remember to always part the hair as much as you can to get the deepest and closest look. You should be checking your pup any time she could have come into contact with parasites, especially after outdoor activities such as hiking or swimming.

When should you be using tick preventives?
The simple answer to this is always. Ticks are prevalent year-round. If you’re unsure about disease in your environment, check this map to see which canine vector-borne diseases are in your area >>

Want more information on ticks? Here are some great resources:

Ticks 101 >>

Dogs, Ticks and Tick-Borne Parasites >>

Protecting Your Dog from Fleas and Ticks >>

6 Tick-Borne Diseases You Should Know About >>

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian -- they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

Reviewed on:

Thursday, September 17, 2015

1. Inside of Ears

Ticks sit themselves on tall grasses and shrubs, waiting for your dog to walk by, so they can attach themselves to him. Dogs are often curious creatures, sticking their heads into everything, so it’s not uncommon for ticks to find their way into a dog's ears. Since most ticks start out very small, it can be difficult to spot them when they first climb onto your dog. With so many crevices and hiding places, the ears make a perfect home for a hungry tick. When checking your dog, make sure to look deep into the ear, because the ticks can get attached and go unnoticed for a long time. If your dog is shaking and scratching at his ear, it’s a sure sign that something is off, and you’ll want to take a look.

How To Check Your Dog For Ticks

Ticks are nasty little blood sucking parasites, and look every bit as unpleasant as they sound. They burrow their heads into the skin of warm blooded animals and feast away like the mini vampires they are. They spread diseases and can go undetected for a long time, so it’s important to stay vigilant, on behalf of both yourself and your dog.

Ticks are usually found near farms and woodland areas, particularly where there are wild deer. It is best to avoid walking your dog near areas that you suspect might contain ticks, as the parasites can transmit very serious and potentially life-threatening diseases, such as Lyme Disease.

Know your enemy - A close up of a tick

If you notice that your dog has a tick, it is vital that you use a tick remover provided by your vet. Do not attempt to burn it off as this can provoke the tick to release its stomach contents into your dog’s bloodstream and if you try to prise it off it will leave its mouthparts behind, which can cause bad infection.

So, once you have removed the tick make sure you haven't left its mouthparts embedded in your dog’s skin, and then use a mild dog antiseptic, or iodine, to clean around the area. Get in touch with your vet if you notice any irritation, pain or swelling, limpness, or a change in your dog’s behavior, as these could all be signs of infection.

How To Apply Tick Treatment To Your Dog

Tick prevention medication is usually included in flea treatment. Apply the contact treatment to your dog’s skin along his back as well as above and below his collar. You don’t want to apply tick treatment to areas of your dog’s coat where he can reach, otherwise he might lick it off and the medication will not do its job. Tick treatment is not absorbed by dog hair, so make sure that you apply it to your dog’s skin instead. Avoid rubbing in the treatment as this will prevent your dog from getting the correct dosage.

You can also buy tick-deterring spray and shampoo from the Omlet store.

This engorged dog ticks need removing

Your vet will provide you with the correct dosage for your dog’s size and weight. They will also tell you how much treatment you should apply at a time and how often you should apply it, as well as any further information you might need about how to apply a particular tick prevention product.

Flea and tick collars are available. They last around 7-8 months – speak to your vet for details.

How To Effectively Check Your Dog for Ticks

Ticks are more than just a nuisance. They can cause serious health complications for pets and people. They can potentially spread debilitating diseases like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and others.

However, ticks often go unnoticed because of their size. Certain types of ticks are no bigger than a grain of sand. That’s why it is so important to check your dog for ticks after playing or walking outdoors.

Use a Preventative Recommended by Your Vet

It’s a good idea to administer a monthly preventative recommended by your veterinarian. There are several types on the market now, including topical treatments , oral chews , and collars . However, this should not take the place of checking your pet after he or she has spent time outside.

PetFirst Pet Insurance offers a variety of options to help you pay for portions of preventative care such as flea and tick prevention for your pet. Get a quote today .

Ticks are most active in the spring, summer, and fall, although this may vary slightly depending on where you live. Ticks can live in grass, leaves, and tall brush, while they wait to attach themselves to a host. When your dog is out playing in the yard, they often seize the opportunity to jump on and feed off Fido.

After a tick attaches to your dog, it begins feeding off your dog’s blood. Therefore the area where a tick has attached itself may become red and irritated.

  • Feel for lumps or bumps.
  • Look for areas of your pet’s skin that appear irritated.

8 areas you should check

Ticks like to hide in moist, dark areas. But are you checking their favorite hiding spots? Make sure to check these spots where ticks frequently are found on dogs:

  • Under your dog’s collar
  • Under your dog’s tail
  • Under the dog’s front and back legs
  • In the groin area
  • Between the toes
  • On the elbows
  • In the folds of your dog’s ears
  • On your dog’s eyelids

Your vet will be able to tell you which tick-borne diseases are common in your area and may pose the most threat to your pet.

Although it is virtually impossible to avoid exposure to ticks, your vet can also advise you on how to avoid locations where large numbers of ticks may be found.

Minimize ticks in your yard

In addition to checking your dog for ticks once he’s been outdoors, you can take actions to make your landscape less appealing to ticks.

  • Since ticks often hitch a ride on wild animals or feral and roaming pets, discourage wild animals and other critters from wandering onto your property.
  • Keep your garbage bins tightly shut so wild animals cannot easily access them. Keep the area around your garbage containers clean.
  • Provide a buffer between your lawn and any wooded areas. Woodchips, gravel, or pet-safe mulch can be used to help decrease the number of ticks coming into your yard.
  • You can minimize the risks of ticks in your yard by spraying an outdoor spray solution. Make sure you know what chemicals are in the product. Ask your veterinarian for recommendations.

While you can’t entirely prevent your pet from encountering ticks, you can remain vigilant and know what to look for. The best protection against tick-borne diseases remains a monthly preventative prescribed by your veterinarian and regularly checking your pets.

So, get out and enjoy all the pawsome activities the outdoors has to offer – especially as summer comes to a close! Just make checking for ticks before coming in part of your routine.

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You’ve probably heard about the horrors of Lyme disease, but this is only one of the horrible diseases that ticks have been known to carry. Though they are most abundant during the summer and fall, ticks are a risk for your dog all year-round and you should never let your guard down. Keep reading to learn about the different diseases that ticks carry and where to look when checking your dog for ticks.

What Diseases Do Ticks Carry?

There are many different kinds of ticks that can be found throughout the United States and Canada. Some ticks are known for carrying specific diseases while others carry any and all of them. Here is a quick overview of the diseases ticks have been known to carry:

  • Lyme Disease – Carried by the deer tick, Lyme disease can affect both pets and people, causing an infection in the tissues that can lead to lameness and other symptoms.
  • Ehrlichosis – Transmitted by the brown dog tick, this disease can cause a chronic infection of the white blood cells that may eventually make its way into your dog’s bone marrow, impacting the production of red blood cells.
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever – Carried by the American dog tick and the lone star tick, this disease comes on suddenly and lasts for two weeks – if not treated, it can be fatal.
  • Anaplasmosis – Transmitted by the deer tick and western black-legged tick, anaplasmosis is an infection of the blood that can lead to lethargy, lameness, and unexpected bleeding.
  • Hepatozoonosis – Carried by the Gulf Coast tick or brown dog tick, this disease can cause lethargy and weight loss as well as depression, fever, and pain.
  • Babesiosis – Transmitted by brown dog ticks, babesiosis is an infection of the red blood cells that can lead to lethargy, weakness, vomiting, and weight loss.

Learning the difference between different types of ticks and educating yourself about the types of ticks found in your area is always a good idea. Keep reading to learn more about where to look for ticks and how to remove one if you find it.

Where Should You Look for Ticks?

Because ticks are so small, your dog is unlikely to notice that he is carrying them – that is why it is up to you to check him. You should always give your dog a quick once-over when you come in from outside, but there are some other signs to look for which may indicate that your dog has a tick. If you find a tick in your home, for example, you’d better check your dog. You should also check him if he develops a fever, has unexplained scabs, if he shakes his head a lot, or if you feel bumps on his skin.

When checking your dog for ticks, there are five key places to look:

  1. On his head
  2. Around his ears
  3. Under his armpits
  4. Under the tail
  5. Between his toes

If you find a tick, make sure you remove it carefully so you don’t leave the head embedded in your dog’s skin. Take a pair of tweezers and firmly grasp the tick’s head as close to the skin as possible then gently twist as you pull it out. Clean your dog’s skin with mild soap and water then dispose of the tick properly by drowning it in alcohol or flushing it down the toilet.

Tiny though they may be, ticks can cause some big problems for you and your dog. Do not make the mistake of assuming that ticks are not a risk if the weather is cold – your dog can still get ticks in the winter! Make sure your dog is protected with a medicated collar or a monthly topical treatment and check him often, just to be safe.

Watch the video: How To Check Your Dog For Ticks (October 2021).

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