Ticks on Dogs: Symptoms and Effective Remedies

Just because our four-pawed friends cant voice their discomfort, does not mean we let them slide by! One such major discomfort is ‘ticks on dogs’, I mean, imagine something biting and crawling on you every day and you can’t even voice your problem. Not a pleasing thought, right?

Ticks on Dogs: Symptoms and Effective Remedies

Every dog owner knows the stress of ticks and the struggle of trying to get rid of our fur babies of them. Ticks on dogs are very common but also dangerous if the infestation gets out of hand.

Your dog can catch fleas or ticks just as easily as we catch a common cold. They can be transferred from open areas with grassy knolls, tall weeds, or other infected animals, or the ticks can also use humans as carriers.

Some ticks on dogs carry diseases that can harm dogs and humans alike. As you can see it is very easy for your pup to catch ticks but it is just as easy to get rid of them if you follow the right techniques.

Stick to the end of the article to know some quick tips to eliminate the ticks on dogs1!

A. How to Spot Ticks?

Ticks on dogs are easy to spot because your dog will usually behave differently. Some tell-tale signs of ticks on dogs are:

  1. Incessant scratching.
  2. Ticks on dogs tend to leave a small bump on the skin after biting.
  3. Your dog constantly bites in particular areas of the body.
  4. Rashes on the skin.

If you live in an area with a lot of cats or small mammals, make sure to avoid contact with them as they can be carriers of fleas and ticks.

Ticks are found on the neck, ears, tail, front legs, and underarms. So if your dog is biting or scratching in these areas, be on the lookout.

Some ticks on dogs are big and they keep getting bigger as they suck blood, this can lead to diseases and health problems.

In rare cases, other symptoms of a tick infestation 2are:

  1. Constant head shaking
  2. Loss of appetite
  3. Lethargy
  4. Loss of sleep

B. Some Facts About Ticks

ticks on dogs
Image Source: antler/ Unilim

Ticks are small parasites that feed on an animal’s blood on the skin’s surface. There are many types of ticks3 but the most common tick species is the small black tick/black-legged (or deer tick) that has eight legs.

This species is mildly difficult to get rid of since it lays eggs as soon as it feeds. Black ticks have a life span of two years. They go through the phases of egg, six-legged larva, eight-legged nymph, and adult.

Once the female tick reaches the adult stage, it can lay at least a thousand eggs. This is why, if a dog does catch adult ticks, it is important to remove them before they get the chance to lay eggs.

These black-legged ticks on dogs, if not removed on time, can cause infections and diseases.

Ticks carry a plethora of bacteria on and in them and transfer it onto your dog. Tick-borne diseases like Tick fever, Lyme disease4, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever5, etc. are a possibility if the tick is not dealt with.

It is highly important to remove ticks on dogs before they cause any harm to your dog. Ticks don’t only transmit diseases to dogs but also to humans.

C. How to Get Rid of Them?

Your dog may have come in contact with a tick or two. Now they cannot stop scratching and their discomfort is making you uncomfortable.

There is a simple solution to stop this, tick removal is a fairly easy knack to learn. Unlike fleas, ticks feed on a dog’s blood in the same spot that they latch on to. They rarely move around and even if they do, they are easy to see or feel.

So first feel around on the skin of your dog to find bumps. You can also spot ticks on dogs around the area where your dog has been scratching or biting.

Once you find the tick, take a tissue or tweezers and break the tick’s contact with the skin. Do this by pulling the tick straight up from the skin.

If the tick is big, try not to squeeze it as squeezing the tick’s body will not remove its mouth from the dog’s body. Detaching the latched mouth of the tick is important to prevent infections.

Once the tick is no longer latched on to the skin, remove it from the dog’s fur wrap it in a tissue and flush it down the toilet.

Ticks on dogs are fast, wriggly creatures, and dumping them in the dustbin or throwing them outside the house does not work since they can just climb out and latch onto other animals.

D. Cleaning the Wound

To cater to the wound, clean it with rubbing alcohol and apply an antibiotic cream on the open wound. Do not leave the wound open or it can catch an infection.

Infections because of parasite bites can be a hassle to deal with right after your dog has been through a tick infestation.

There are many essential oils you can apply to ease the pain and burn of the tick bite wound. Some shampoos and conditioners also help to ease the swell and redness of the tick bite. Taking care of tick wounds will help in avoiding infections.

If there is an infestation and it is out of control, it can cause Lyme disease. In that case, you have to visit a veterinarian, who will administer a strong but effective tablet that has to be ingested and gets rid of the ticks on dogs.

In rare cases, the dog has to be hospitalized and sedated to reduce the fevers and ease their pain.

There is a tick prevention and dog tick removal tool that you can find on Amazon. These include many different types of forceps made for different sizes and breeds of ticks and tick removal combs.

E. How to Prevent Ticks on Dogs?

Pet owners that once experience a tick infestation do not want to go through it again. So they might ask “How do we avoid this?” Well, this question is easy to answer. Since ticks are an infamous menace to dogs and their owners, there are many over-the-counter medical tick prevention methods available.

Tick collars are the most effective method to prevent ticks. But they may not work on other dogs, since every dog is built differently.

There are also tick sprays that you can apply to your pet’s skin. Although these sprays are advised against by vets since constant use can cause rashes on the skin due to their harsh chemicals. But these sprays also come in essential oils like lemongrass and tea tree oil which ticks are usually averted to.

Many dog owners apply tick-prevention shampoos and conditioners while bathing their pups. But you have to be careful to not use these when there is a tick infestation on your dog’s skin. They can aggravate the infected area and cause rashes and infections.

Tick bites are painful and open wounds, you do not want to aggravate the chances of an infection by adding chemicals to it. Most pet owners use tick prevention products after they were advised by their vet.

Always ask your vet before using ANY type of new medication/chemical on your pet. Tick control products can be bought over the counter at any veterinarian clinic.

ticks on dog
Photo by Thirdman from Pexels

F. Follow Etiquette

Your pet has come in contact with ticks and is now infested. How should you behave during this period? Believe it or not, there are rules and etiquette to follow when your dog has ticks.

For example, always let other owners know that your pooch is dealing with ticks at the moment if you are going to meet other dogs during your outdoor activities. You never want to be the reason why another dog has to go through an infestation!

If your dog has a really big infestation, quarantine them till it is under control. Ticks on dogs can cause many complications. Never let your dog be the reason that another fur baby gets ticks.

Give them proper treatment and make sure they are completely tick-free before letting them socialize with other dogs.

G. Ignorance

Given the fact that ticks are a common nuisance to dogs, some owners ignore them. Ticks on dogs are not something that goes away on their own. Ticks once get latched on the dog’s body, they keep multiplying until they are removed.

When ticks bite dogs, they leave behind bacteria that can cause infections. Most ticks live in the ear of the dog. Ear infections can be very harmful to your dog and can cause serious complications if not taken care of. Other ticks can cause even more harmful diseases like the following:

1. Lyme disease

According to the American Kennel Club, Lyme disease is a very common tick disease in America. It is transferred onto a dog or human by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi which are carried by ticks.

This disease is spread by a tick bite and runs through the bloodstream till it reaches a particular part of the body and affects it.

Some symptoms of Lyme disease are:

  1. Loss of appetite
  2. Stiffness in a joint
  3. Shifting stiffness in a particular body part
  4. Fever
  5. Exhaustion

These symptoms can only appear after a tick bite so check the body thoroughly for bumps or ticks. If you notice any of these symptoms in your pup, it should be checked out by a vet immediately. Rare cases lead to total organ failure.

2. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Ticks infest dogs and are also capable of making a dog sick. Some forest ticks do bite humans and this can cause fatal conditions.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever can cause many complications if not treated within 4 days. This disease is spread through bacteria that travels with the American dog ticks, wood ticks, and brown dog ticks.

Maybe you and your furry best friend went for a transcendental meditation hike in the mountains and contracted a bad tick.

If your dog does spend time outdoors, make sure to take preventative measures so ticks cannot bite them. American dog ticks live on tall grasses and wooded areas which are present in most dog parks.

Always use tick preventatives before taking your pooch to the park. Dog parks are where there is the highest risk to come in contact with ticks or dogs with ticks.

Symptoms of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever:

  1. Fever
  2. Coughing
  3. Loss of appetite
  4. Joint pain
  5. Swollen face
  6. Vomiting or Diarrhoea

These are just non-specific signs of your dog having RMSF but it is best if you get them checked out by a vet so treatment can be started before it worsens.

In extreme cases, during an infestation, this disease can cause necrosis or tissue death in dogs.

ticks on dog
Image Source: Novic/ Unilim

H. Conclusion

Getting a proper run-down from a veterinarian about ticks on dogs could help you be prepared for the first time your pup has to face ticks.

Veterinarians can also show you the right technique to deal with an infestation and they can help you help your baby get through the discomfort. Especially if your dog is fussy or aggressive and does not listen to you when it comes to checking and vetting, never get tired and neglect the problem.

A vet is trained for such situations and knows how to properly handle fussy dogs.

Letting dogs play outdoors is very important but taking preventive measures is more important. Parasites getting on animals is not as rare as one would think.

Always apply tick repellants or tick collars on your dog before sending them out in the grass or on play dates with other dogs.

Taking care of your dog as much as you would care for yourself is important because dogs cannot speak and need our help in some matters. If you are a long-term owner, you are probably aware of your pup’s body language. Use this advantage to further communicate with them.

Humans are also as much in danger as dogs are when it comes to ticks but we can easily understand and tell someone our health issues. But we need to keep a check on our dogs in these matters. So, stay vigilant, will you?

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  1. Leschnik, M. W., et al. “Species, developmental stage and infection with microbial pathogens of engorged ticks removed from dogs and questing ticks.” Medical and Veterinary Entomology 26.4 (2012): 440-446. ↩︎
  2. Smith, F. D., et al. “Prevalence, distribution and risk associated with tick infestation of dogs in Great Britain.” Medical and Veterinary Entomology 25.4 (2011): 377-384. ↩︎
  3. Anderson, John F. “The natural history of ticks.” Medical Clinics 86.2 (2002): 205-218. ↩︎
  4. Stanek, Gerold, et al. “Lyme borreliosis.” The Lancet 379.9814 (2012): 461-473. ↩︎
  5. Dantas-Torres, Filipe. “Rocky Mountain spotted fever.” The Lancet infectious diseases 7.11 (2007): 724-732. ↩︎

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