With summer already in full swing, ticks on dogs are becoming more and more of an issue at hand.
Our guide will help you better understand these unwanted pests, how to deal with them, and when to visit your vet.
Moreover, we included information on how to remove a tick from a dog and which natural remedies can help you with prevention and control.
So, let’s start.
Types of Ticks on Dogs
Although there are many tick species in the US, your pet might only encounter a few of them.
These different ticks on dogs include the brown dog tick, the lone star tick, the American dog tick, and the black-legged tick(deer tick).
Let’s quickly go through each of these tick types.
The Lone Star Tick
Fully matured lone star ticks are tan or brown. They typically live in wooded areas, especially those with thick underbrush. The females have a silvery-white mark on their backs, while the males have scattered white specks.
Like many other ticks, lone star ticks can spread various bacteria and dangerous diseases to pets. For instance, they can cause cytauxzoonosis, a complex illness in cats.
The American Dog Tick
The American dog tick (also popularly known as the wood tick) belongs to the family of hard ticks, meaning that it has a rigid external shield.
Adult American dog ticks are chestnut brown with white stripes or patches on their backs, and your dog is most likely to encounter them in the early summer or spring.
This type of tick can carry harmful bacteria that can cause various diseases in people, like the Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
The Brown Dog Tick
Brown dog ticks are reddish-brown in appearance, and they mainly attach to domestic dogs. Although it prefers warmer climates, the brown dog tick can be found all over the US.
This type of tick can transmit various illnesses, including canine babesia, which can lead to systemic shock and bleeding. However, this type of babesia is not hazardous to humans with healthy immune systems.
Dog Tick vs Deer Tick
Dog ticks and deer ticks are two different ticks that do the same thing — they are parasites, so they rely on their hosts for survival.
While both dog ticks and deer ticks are members of the same species, they have distinctive traits.
Here’s an overview of the two different ticks on dogs.
Dog ticks on dogs:
- Reddish-brown, narrow shaped, eight legs
- Approximately a quarter of an inch size
- Can cause tularemia, tick paralysis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever
- Can live indoors
- Found in natural areas, trails, walkways, dog beds, and kennels
- Active from April to August
Deer ticks on dogs:
- Red-orange with eight black legs
- Exceptionally small, around the size of poppy seed or sesame seed
- Can cause babesiosis, Lyme disease, and anaplasmosis
- Mainly found in the southern, central, and eastern US
- Found in overgrown areas, plants, and grass
- Active from late spring-early fall
Don’t be fooled by the name of deer ticks — they can attack dogs and humans alike. Moreover, deer ticks can live up to a maximum of 2 years (with enough sustenance).
One of the easiest ways to differentiate between a dog tick and a deer tick is to look at the size — dog ticks are almost double the size of deer ticks.
Dog Tick Diseases and Symptoms
By now, it’s probably clear how dangerous tick bites can be — they can harm not only your pet but you as well.
So, if you are worried that you’ve found a tick bite on your dog, look out for the following symptoms.
Symptoms: lameness, swelling of joints, fever, neurological problems, kidney damage, lethargy, increased urination, increased thirst, stiffness.
Pet owners can’t contract Lyme disease from their dogs directly. However, dogs can bring carrier ticks into the household on their fur.
Symptoms: fever, lameness, gum bruising, lethargy, ataxia, stiffness.
Fortunately, this illness can be treated with a vet-prescribed antibiotic. So, although some tick-borne diseases in dogs are more dangerous than others, anaplasmosis can be treated successfully when diagnosed early.
Canine Granulocytic Ehrlichiosis
Symptoms: lethargy, enlarged lymph nodes, fever, decreased appetite, lameness, bleeding, weakness, swelling of joints, weight loss.
This disease can be spread through a lone star tick bite.
Ticks on dogs symptoms can be categorized into three stages.
- Acute – earliest stage
- Sub-clinical – no outward sign of ehrlichiosis
- Chronic or clinical – long-standing infection
In areas where the disease is common, many canines are seen in the earliest stage.
Knowing the potential tick diseases in dogs will help you catch any symptoms in time to take action and prevent the disease from advancing further.
Signs Your Dog Has a Tick
Once they have buried themselves in your dog’s fur, these parasites can be tough to notice. Here are two quick and fool-proof ways to spot a tick on your pet before they harm your pet.
Small bumps on your dog’s skin
Typically, ticks are small, and as they attach to your dog and fill up with blood, the engorged dog tick becomes larger and significantly more visible.
So, keep a close eye on any bumps on your pet’s skin.
Pro tip: Pay extra attention to ticks on dogs found near the ears, the groin area, and the legs.
Flea bites can cause your pet to scratch uncontrollably, but tick bites often go unnoticed.
Nevertheless, some dogs’ skin may get inflamed around the site of the tick attachment — so pay attention to skin irritations.
How to Remove a Tick from a Dog
If you see a tick on your pet and you don’t take quick action, the parasite can be a threat to your dog’s health.
However, it’s not essential just to take care of the tick quickly — you also need to remove it properly.
So, how to get rid of ticks on dogs? Here are a few ways you can do this yourself.
How to get a Tick off a Dog with Tweezers
Firstly, make sure to use fine-point tweezers instead of regular household tweezers. This way, you’ll get a firmer grasp on the tick and avoid tearing the parasite.
Next, spread the pet’s fur so you can see the tick clearly, and carefully grab it with the tweezers as close to the dog’s skin as you can.
Slowly, pull the tick straight upward, making sure that the tick’s head is completely removed from the skin.
Suppose you find an embedded tick on your dog, and part of its body is under the skin. In that case, we recommend consulting your vet as pulling it out may result in part of the body being left inside.
How to Remove Tick from Dog with a Removal Tool
An even more straightforward way to remove a parasite from your dog’s skin is to utilize a unique tool called a tick removal hook.
Using it is a piece of cake — just place the prongs on either side of the parasite and slowly twist upward.
If the tick head is stuck in the dog, contact a vet right away. After removing the parasite, cleanse the bite area with some rubbing alcohol. Also, remember to wash your hands and clean the tweezers.
Warning: Never attempt to remove a tick with only your fingers. Not only will this be ineffective, but you could be further putting your dog’s health in danger.
How to Prevent Ticks on Dogs
There are many ways you can treat ticks on dogs. Of course, your veterinarian will provide the best treatment for your pet.
However, there are some other excellent alternatives if you want a quick solution on how to keep ticks off dogs.
Collars for ticks
When you put a tick-repellent collar on your dog, it releases tiny amounts of chemicals. As these substances spread through your dog’s fur, they will kill ticks and fleas before the parasites have a chance to bite your pet.
Removing a tick from a dog can be done with the help of spot-on treatments. There are many treatments on the market that are effective and budget-friendly, and you can find them in pet shops easily.
You can prevent ticks in dogs by bathing your pet with a special medicated shampoo designed to keep fleas and ticks at bay.
The downside is that you will have to repeat the process often, as the anti-tick ingredients typically aren’t as long-lasting as spot-on treatments.
Believe it or not, anti-tick pills are a real thing. This particular oral tick treatment for dogs is given to the pet once per month.
Groom your dog regularly
Grooming your dog will not only strengthen the friendship the two of you have, but it will also remove dead skin from the pet’s coat and help the fur look shiny and healthy. It will help you notice ticks straight away.
Even washing your dog with regular dog shampoo helps you catch any unwanted pests in their fur in their tracks. It also prevents fur from getting matted, which is a perfect hiding place for ticks.
Home Remedies for Ticks on Dogs
If you are a big advocate of chemical-free treatments, we have a special treat for you. In the following section, you’ll read about the best natural ways to get rid of ticks safely and effectively.
So, if you are wondering how to prevent ticks on dogs naturally, keep on reading.
Mint smells lovely, and it’s an excellent natural anti-tick remedy, repelling them far from your pet.
- Squeeze two lemons
- Blend the juice with ten teaspoons of raw apple cider vinegar
- Dilute this natural tick prevention for dogs in some warm water
- Soak some mint leaves in the concoction, and leave it overnight.
- The next day, strain the mix and pour in a spray bottle
To use, simply spray it over your dog’s fur. For maximum results, repeat this procedure every two months.
Yes, you read it right — this flea and tick prevention for dogs contains nicotine, a potent insecticide.
You can eliminate ticks by rubbing tobacco leaves directly on your dog’s body. Alternatively, you can spray your pet’s fur with a tobacco water blend.
Cloves have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties —and they are the natural answer to how to kill ticks on dogs.
To make your anti-tick clove spray:
- Mix three dried cloves and three camphor crystals in around 32 oz of alcohol/ethanol
- When it’s dissolved, add one cup of raw apple cider vinegar to the mixture
- Pour this blend into a bottle, and spray your pet’s fur
To reap maximum benefits for tick bites on dogs, let the mixture stay on the pet’s fur for two hours before rinsing off with water.
Warning: Make sure to protect your dog’s mouth and eyes!
What should I do if my dog has ticks?
If your dog has ticks, we recommend removing them straight away via some of the listed methods. If you don’t know how you can always take your pet to the veterinarian’s office for professional tick removal.
Regardless of how you remove it, you should always try to prevent ticks from attacking your pet in the first place.
Use proper tick protection, such as a collar, special shampoos, and regular grooming techniques.
Should I take my dog to the vet for a tick?
If you discover a tick and manage to remove it from your pet successfully, following up with a veterinarian is not obligatory.
However, if you fail to do so correctly, consult with a professional right away. Needless to say, you should always take your pet to the vet if you notice potential health problems.
Needless to say, veterinarians can be expensive. Luckily, we prepared a full review of the best dog insurance companies that will have you covered and help you prepare for any pet emergency.
How to stop ticks on dogs?
There are many effective ways to stop ticks. For instance, you can invest in anti-tick collars, tablets, spot-on treatments, shampoos, special pills, or some other quality flea and tick treatments for dogs.
Keeping your pet out of tall grass is another simple way to prevent tick attacks.
What happens when a dog gets a tick?
When a dog gets a tick, it can quickly develop symptoms, though sometimes it can go unnoticed.
Some of the most common symptoms of tick attacks include lethargy, decreased appetite levels, fever, lameness, bleeding, and enlarged lymph nodes.
Remember, not all pets showcase the same symptoms of tick infestation.
Can dogs get Lyme disease?
Yes, dogs may get Lyme disease from the bite of a tick.
Once sick, the dog can experience lameness and fever. Moreover, swollen lymph nodes and sluggishness are also common symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs.
Just keep in mind that only 10% of affected dogs display symptoms of Lyme disease.
Should I be worried if I found a tick on my dog?
No, if you find a tick on your pet straight away, you should not be worried. However, if you fail to remove the tick properly or notice disease symptoms, you should consult a professional immediately.
How do you get rid of dog ticks fast?
You can get rid of ticks quickly by using chemical sprays, tablets, anti-tick collars, and special shampoos. If you prefer natural anti-tick solutions, then try making a clove spray or a mint-infused spray.
You can find different pet-friendly chemical sprays and mixtures in bigger pet stores, or you can consult your veterinarian.
Overall, ticks may seem harmless, but they can be a severe menace by infesting your dog with various deadly diseases.
We hope you found this article about ticks on dogs helpful — and if you have, make sure that you share this comprehensive guide with other dog owners.