How to Check for Ticks on Dogs

ticks on dogs, how to remove ticks from dogs

Ticks are so gross that the thought of a nasty tick sinking into your skin is enough to make your skin crawl. What’s even worse is when ticks get on our dogs because our pets don’t have any way to remove ticks. Most tick bites are harmless but some ticks can pass on diseases to humans and pets. In fact, tick-borne diseases are so common that May is National Lyme Disease Awareness Month.

What is Lyme disease? 

Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Both humans and dogs can contract Lyme disease. The CDC reports fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes are common symptoms of Lyme disease.

How can Lyme disease be prevented?

The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to reduce your dog’s exposure to ticks. That means...

  • Avoid taking your dog to areas where ticks are prevalent, such as thickly wooded areas, areas with lots of tall grass or marsh areas. 

  • Use a tick preventive product. Work with your veterinarian to find the right preventative product for your dog.

  • Keep the grass around your home cut short and keep bushes and shrubs away from your house.   

  • Get your dog vaccinated against Lyme disease.

  • Check your dog (and yourself) for ticks and promptly remove them.

How do I check my dog for ticks?

Use your fingers or a flea and tick comb to carefully examine your dog for ticks. You want to remove ticks promptly because the longer they are attached to your dog, the greater the chance that your dog can contract Lyme disease.

how to check dog for ticks, ticks on dogs

The most common areas to search your dog for ticks include…

  • Ears - Especially behind your dog’s ears or even inside the ear flap. The ear has crevices that ticks like to hide in.

  • Head - Ticks also frequently bite dogs in areas around their head and face, especially under your dog’s chin.

  • Collar - Under your dog’s collar or harness is a dark place that ticks like to hide.  

  • Armpits - The armpits of your dog’s front legs are also a very common place for tick bites and it isn’t an area that is often checked. Be sure to have your dog lie on their back so you can check their armpits thoroughly for ticks.

  • Groin - While your dog is on their back it is also a good time to check their groin and abdomen for ticks. Because dogs are low to the ground, ticks tend to latch on to the dog’s belly and abdomen region. 

  • Toes - Between your dog’s toes is the perfect place for a tick to hide and it’s also a place pet parents frequently forget to check. Check in between each toe and in between your dog’s paw pads. 

  • Tail - Underneath your dog’s tail or even burrowed in the fur of your dog’s tail is another place to check for those pesky ticks. 

How do I remove a tick from my dog?

  • Use a tweezers or a tick removal hook

  • Take your tweezers and grab the tick close to your dog’s skin

  • Pull the tick out and away from your dog’s skin, taking care to avoid crushing the tick or leaving its head still attached under the skin

  • Thoroughly clean the area where the tick bite occurred and apply antibiotic ointment. 

  • Dispose of the tick by putting it in alcohol or flushing it down the toilet.

  • Monitor the area where the bite occurred over the next week and watch for signs of infection.

  • If you don’t feel comfortable removing a tick from your dog by yourself, you can ask your veterinarian or dog groomer to remove the tick for you. 

If you’re looking for more information on how to best care for your best pal, be sure to check out our other blog posts.

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