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How to Check your Dog for Ticks

With tick season in full swing, we have crafted an expert guide to help keep your dog safe should your pup be the unfortunate victim of a tick bite. It is important to check your dog for ticks daily in the warm places ticks like to live. This includes under the collar, between the toes, around the eyes, inside the ears, and around the private areas.  Using a fine-toothed comb and magnifying glass, carefully go through the fur and feel for any irregularities in the skin and coat.

How to Safely remove a Tick from a Dog

When removing a tick from a dog, do not squeeze, puncture, or burn the body of the tick which could contain infection-causing organisms.  Similar to removing a weed from a flower bed, the proper way to remove a tick is as close to the base of the head as possible. Use fine-tipped tweezers and try to apply steady, even pressure while pulling upwards. Try not to break the mouthparts which could remain in the skin. Likewise, do not use bad practices such as burning the tick or painting it with nail polish. This could risk spreading infection

What Should You Do After Removing a Tick from a Dog?

After removing the tick, wash the area thoroughly with soap and water. If any mouthparts of the tick remain in the skin, these should be left alone; they will be expelled on their own. If the skin is bleeding around the bite area, apply rubbing alcohol or antiseptic such as hydrogen peroxide to help prevent infection. Once thoroughly cleaned, you can also apply a small amount of NatrixOne to help the wound heal faster.  If your dog develops a fever or rash in the next few days, it is important to contact your veterinarian. 

Deer Tick (Left) vs Dog Tick (right)

How to Prevent Tick Bites on a Dog

Most veterinarians will recommend preventing tick bites that can lead to disease by using many different products that they will tailor to your lifestyle.  Oral products using Sarolaner, like Simparica or Nexguard work well but need to be used with caution in dogs with seizure disorders.  Other options include topical medications like Advantix and Sersto collars.  Area flea and tick sprays can be used to prevent the ticks from living in the common areas where your dog will be like your backyard.  Preventing fleas and ticks from biting is the easiest way to prevent disease transfer and keep your pet safe.

Deer Ticks vs Wood Ticks

The two predominant tick species in North America are the Deer Tick (Left) and Wood or Dog Tick (right). Deer tick carries a higher risk of having Lyme disease, while Dog or Wood ticks carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia. In addition to Deer and Wood ticks, there are species native to California, Michigan, and Maine that also carry dangerous diseases.

How Long Do Ticks Live?

Most species of ticks can live months, if not years without a host depending on which stage of their life they are in. Once attached to a host, a tick will generally spend 3-7 days feeding depending on which stage of its life cycle it is at.

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About the Author

Rich Coleman
Dr. Rich Coleman grew up in Fairfield, Ohio and began his journey into veterinary medicine as a kennel attendant at the age of 15. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Cincinnati before graduating from The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2002. Dr. Rich took over Plum Veterinary Clinic in December 2006, changed the name to Four Paws Animal Hospital in 2007, built a new facility in 2012 and began a remodel in March 2019 to allow for more growth and opportunities for our community. Dr. Rich Coleman is the Chief Veterinary Officer for NatrixOne™ and completed our 100 dog study in 2018. After seeing results firsthand, he joined the NatrixOne team!