It’s not uncommon for pet owners to find ticks on dogs. This is especially true if your pet likes to romp around in the yard or the woods. But ticks are serious business, and they can lead to severe symptoms. They feed on blood, and they can cause several serious diseases that may threaten your dog’s health.
Here’s some information for pet owners regarding ticks on dogs. You’ll learn the symptoms of tick diseases and what to do if you find one on your pet. You’ll also get some tick removal and tick prevention tips.
How Ticks Feed on Your Pet
Ticks survive by feeding on the blood of their hosts. First, they burrow under the hosts’ skin using their heads. There, they bite the host and feed, becoming engorged on blood. Ticks aren’t that particular when it comes to feeding. They attach themselves to humans, as well as dogs and cats.
Ticks typically live in wooded areas and in warm climates, but they can be found nearly everywhere.1
Common Types of Ticks
Now, there are several different types of ticks. There are hard ticks, which (as the name implies) have a hard shell, and soft ticks, which have a softer shell. These are some of the most common types of ticks you might find on your pet:
Black-Legged Tick – The black-legged tick, or deer tick, is among the most dangerous types of ticks to animals and humans. This type of tick can spread Lyme disease. You’ll typically find black-legged ticks in the Northeast, Midwest, and South.
Brown Dog Tick – It’s pretty easy to figure out how this tick gets its name. It’s brown in color and feeds primarily on the blood of dogs. The brown dog tick can be found throughout the U.S.
Gulf Coast Tick – The Gulf Coast tick is usually found in states near the Gulf of Mexico. But it also lives in many of the states that border the Atlantic Ocean.2
Common Places Ticks Hide on a Dog’s Skin
As a pet owner, you might’ve checked your pup’s skin for ticks before — especially after they’ve spent lots of time outdoors. You’ve quickly rubbed your hands along your pet’s head and body, looking for ticks. But is a quick check enough? Probably not.
As it turns out, adult ticks can find some pretty out-of-the-way places to hide on the skin – on dogs and on humans. If you don’t find them on your pet’s skin, they might feed on your dog’s blood for days.
These are just a few of the places where they like to hang out:
- Under the tail
- Near the genital area
- The skin near the eyelids
- Inside the ears
- Between the toes
- Under the collar3
Symptoms of Tick Bites
Now, there are several symptoms associated with a tick bite. These symptoms can include infections of the skin, blood loss, and irritated skin. They also include near-constant itching and redness in the affected area.4
A tick bite can lead to a serious disease that can endanger your dog’s health (and yours).
One of the worst tick-borne illnesses is Lyme disease.
This is a serious bacterial infection that can, in some instances, result in kidney failure in humans and dogs. Symptoms include joint pain and loss of appetite.5
Another disease associated with ticks on dogs is Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. You would think Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever only occurs in one area of the country. But it can happen anywhere in the U.S.
How to Remove Ticks From Dogs
If you notice adult ticks on your pet’s skin, you’ll want to get rid of them quickly. But tick removal needs to be done correctly. Ideally, it’s safer for your vet to remove ticks from dogs.
If you choose to perform tick removal yourself, take your pet to the vet afterward. That way, you can make sure you did it right.
- When removing ticks from dogs, you’ll first need to put on a pair of rubber gloves. You don’t want to risk becoming infected by the blood from the tick.
- Get the tweezers as close to the skin as you can, and gently pull upward. Don’t jerk or twist. If you do, the mouth of the tick may remain under the skin.
- Carefully remove the tick from the skin with tweezers.
Once you’ve removed the tick, put it in a jar and screw on the top. Take the tick to the vet, so it can be tested. If you pour a little rubbing alcohol in the jar, the tick will die. Sterilize the tweezers, wash your hands, and clean the area where the tick bit your dog thoroughly.7
Prevention is key to avoiding problems caused by ticks. Pet owners can find tick preventatives at local pet stores, including topical medicines to prevent ticks and fleas, as well as tick collars. Your vet should also carry several types of tick prevention products to help protect your dog’s health.
You’ve heard the expression, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?” Well, this is especially true when it comes to ticks on your pup. Prevention of ticks now could help protect your dog from potentially dangerous tick diseases in the future.
And remember: The best way to remove ticks from dogs is to let your veterinarian handle it!