Ticks on dogs can be more than just unpleasant and annoying, they can also spread diseases that are thankfully rare, but also potentially serious. If you’re wondering about the most effective tick prevention for dogs, or want to know how to remove ticks from dogs safely and effectively, read on to find out everything you need to know.
What do ticks on dogs look like?
Ticks on dogs can be quite variable in appearance, depending on their size and when they last ate. They range in size from a couple of millimetres across through to the size of a large fingernail, and are round or oval in shape. Ticks can be coloured anything from pale greyish or cream through to dark red or brown, and they often look like smooth little pebbles.
Because the visible part of the tick that you can see when they have attached themselves to your dog’s skin is their body only, you won’t have the benefit of seeing the head to help with identification.
Get to know your dog’s body, and check your dog over after each walk for anything new that might indicate a tick. Pay special attention to the belly, groin, armpits and between the hind legs, as ticks tend to target areas with sparser fur that are easier to latch on to.
Tick prevention for dogs
It is not always possible to stop ticks from hitching a ride on your dog’s body, particularly if you live in an area where ticks are rife at certain times of the year. However, ticks tend to be found in shady places where the ground is moist or there’s a lot of moisture in the air – like areas of shaded woodland, and around marshes, streams and the banks of other water sources.
Additionally, ticks are equal-opportunity parasites, which are happy to target animals like hedgehogs, foxes and pet cats as well as dogs – so areas with a lot of wildlife might also have a lot of ticks.
If you know that a certain area near to where you live tends to be rife with ticks, avoiding it where possible can reduce the risk of your dog picking up ticks when out on walks.
Many spot-on flea treatments also serve as a tick repellent too, but this is not the case for all of them – so when it comes to effective tick prevention for dogs, choose a spot-on flea treatment that also works against ticks.
How to remove ticks from dogs
Removing ticks from dogs is actually pretty simple – if you have the right tools for the job and know how to go about things in the right way! The best way to remove ticks from dogs is to invest in a handy little tool called a tick twister, which can be bought for around £5 from most veterinary clinics and online pet retailers.
Tick twisters are small plastic tools with claw-shaped ends, which slot between the body of the tick and the head that has latched onto your dog’s skin, and which are then simply twisted gently sideways to remove ticks from dogs painlessly and quickly.
If you don’t have a tick twister and aren’t able to buy one fairly promptly, here are some other safe and effective ways to remove ticks from dogs.
• Use a pair of blunt, pointed tweezers and insert this carefully between the tick’s body and the part of their head that is attached to the skin. Use a gentle, smooth pressure to twist the tick out of the skin itself. Take care when doing this to ensure that you don’t grasp or squeeze the tick’s body, as this can kill the tick whilst it is still attached, leading to toxins being released under your dog’s skin. Also, take care not to snap the body of the tick off and leave the head buried, as this too can lead to problems.
• Another approach is to use a vial of a spot-on flea treatment that is effective on ticks, and dot this onto the tick’s body and around the surrounding skin. This will cause the tick to disengage and drop away, but this can take several hours, so you should monitor it carefully.
• You can also take your dog along to your local dog groomer or veterinary clinic, and ask a groomer or a vet nurse to remove the tick quickly and safely. A nominal charge will be made for this service – and you might also be able to buy a tick twister at the same time, to keep in reserve in case you find another tick on your dog in the future!
Ticks on dogs can be a problem, but by planning ahead, you can reduce the chances of having to remove a tick from your dog in the first place.
If you do find a tick, even after removing it, keep an eye on the area it was attached to for a few days to ensure that your dog doesn’t develop a localised infection or irritation.
Also, keep an eye out for signs of systemic illness for a few weeks afterwards too, such as a high fever, loss of appetite, or anything else out of the ordinary. If anything does seem to be amiss, take your dog along to the vet for a check-up, and mention that you recently removed a tick from your dog.