Ticks on Dogs: How and Why to Find and Remove Them

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How to spot ticks on your dog, which are the symptoms and how to remove them.

In this article we will analyze the issue of ticks on dogs. This problem is not to be taken lightly. A tick is a parasite which feeds on the blood of its host, so they are always looking for a living animal to feast on.

Ticks on Dogs: How to Spot them

Recognizing them is easy. Most common ticks on Dogs have a round shape. Plain if not fed yet and “engorged” with blood if they ate already. Dark-coloured with eight legs, their face is mostly a hook located above their teeth. Their size can start on 2mm and can go up to 10mm according to the species they belong to.

When the tick burrows into its victim’s skin, the bitten animal feels no pain since the saliva has an anesthetic property which helps to go unnoticed.

Once it is hooked to our four-legged friend, the tick begins to suck on its blood. Filling itself and growing in size. They generally stay hooked for a period of 2 to 7 seven days. Once it is “full”, the tick lets go of the hook and spontaneously lets loose. If the tick is a female, it also lays eggs.

Ticks on Dogs: Symptoms, How They Move and Attack your Dog

The presence of ticks on dogs must be spotted as soon as possible. In order to do this, we advise you to carefully examine your friend, especially after a walk, may it have been on a large field, woods or the meadows.

Unlike fleas, ticks do not jump. They wait for their victim around plants, their leaves, low-level sticks, always ready to climb onto the animal as soon as it passes by closely.

So, what to do? As the owner you must search and pat your dog. Make sure to use thin-teeth brushes to spot the tick on mid-length fur. Give special attention to certain areas such as ears, in between the paws’ toes and below the chest. Search the nose and all areas with low fur density. Those areas make it easy for this yucky parasite to reach the dog’s skin.

Even if your dog is constantly scratching the same area, make sure there aren’t any parasites. The itching is caused by the tick when it sucks your pup’s blood.

Ticks on Dogs: How to Get them Off your Dog

Besides the correct and consistent use of pesticides, there are still chances a tick might grab onto your dog. How do you remove them?

First, do not pay any attention to suggestions such as using oil, creams, or alcohol. These would cause the tick to raise its head “above” the dog’s skin. This most likely will force the tick to regurgitate, and by extension, the chances of disease transmission would increase on the host.

The right procedure to remove and wipe out ticks on your dog is:

  1. Use small-toothed tweezers or a tick remover. If possible, use curved shaped ones, even though regular tweezers for eyebrows should do the job.
  2. Grab onto the parasite on the closest area to your dog’s skin as possible and gently pull back, try to switch to your left until the parasite shows resistance. This is the moment you must get the tick off your dog completely.
  3. Prioritize removing the tick while they are still alive and in one piece. This means that you should make sure not to scratch or splash its body during the procedure, otherwise this could lead to a possibly infected leak.

For the same reason, the parasite should not be stepped on after being removed. In case the removed tick is a female, it could lay eggs or risk other possible infections. The correct way to deal with the parasite after removal is dipping it in alcohol or burning it.

Ticks on Dogs: The Real Danger is Tick Transfer!

As we mentioned, ticks can grab onto any warm-blooded animal, including us human beings. So we must pay attention not only to our dogs but also to ourselves. In fact, we can get bitten by the same parasite during a walk with our dog and afterwards. Our dog can be a carrier and the tick would not grab onto it thanks to the pesticide, but it can grab onto us.

Besides being annoying and quite unpleasant to the eyes, the tick can also be very dangerous when it bites. During the sucktion stage, some microorganisms can be transmitted. These microorganisms carry diseases such as:

  • Rickettsial infections,
  • Lyme Disease,
  • Ehrlichiosis,
  • Dog fever (canine anaplasmosis),
  • Tick-borne encephalitis,
  • Rabbit fever (Tularaemia).

Just like on dogs, ticks on humans must be removed through the same procedure and as soon as possible, within the first 48 hours infections are less likely to develop.

After that, keep an eye close to the affected skin area for 40 days at least. If a reddening begins to spread, fever symptoms start to show up, headaches or joint pain appear, please go to your doctor, who may, if necessary, prescribe the right antibiotic therapy to treat you.

Ticks on Dogs: Prevention

In order to minimize the chances of your dog walking into your house with ticks grabbed onto its skin, precaution is always your best bet. There are many tick pesticides for dogs, especially designed for this goal. They have also proven efficient against mosquitoes and fleas.

Collars, topical treatments and sprays are available at your favorite pet shop to apply periodically (monthly or every three months) according to the instructions provided by your vet.

There are other products which are not advised for precaution but they can be useful in the unfortunate case of tick infestation, like powders and shampoos.

If you have any more doubts on the subject, you can talk to your trusted vet who will answer all your questions.