8 Effective Ways to Keep Ticks Off Your Dog
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Springtime is here and so are the Ticks! No one enjoys running their hands over their dog’s fur only to find an attached Tick, Yuk! Spring and Summer is all about going outside to enjoy the beautiful weather with your dog. It shouldn’t be about skipping certain activities to avoid ticks.
Let’s be honest, ticks are everywhere now, so learning more about tick prevention and proper removal is important as a dog owner. Learn how to keep ticks off of your dog this season.
What is a Tick?
Ticks are small arachnids, not insects. Adult ticks have eight legs, a round-shaped body, and are usually 3 to 5 mm in length. They can be black, brown, or tan in color. Ticks live off the blood of animals, people, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. This is why Ticks are considered ectoparasites. When a Tick feeds off of an animal or human host, it can pass on a number of diseases.
Where Do Ticks Hide:
Ticks are usually found in forests, meadows, gardens and parks. They can attach to you and your dog when you brush up against them. Dogs can pick up ticks while walking through tall grass or crawling through shrubs.
Ticks can survive the cold winter months by living underground. When it gets warmer outside, they immediately begin looking for hosts to feed on.
Facts About Ticks:
- A tick can swell up to 10 times its normal size from the blood it consumes.
- A female tick can lay between three to seven thousand eggs in one sitting.
- There are 200 known tick species located in the USA.
- A tick’s saliva contains so much bacteria that they are among the most potent disease carriers in the world.
- Ticks also transmit Human Diseases including Malaria and HIV/AIDS.
- Female long-horned ticks don’t need a male to reproduce. They can spawn asexually and lay thousands of eggs (parthenogenesis). These Ticks are native to Asia, but now have spread to the United States. 4
- Adult Ticks have the ability to survive without a host for up to a year and a half.
Ways to Keep Ticks Off Your Dog (Tick Prevention)
NOTE: The Companion Animal Parasite Council says the most important thing to do to prevent ticks is to use a combination flea and tick control agent All YEAR Round.
How to Check Your Dog for Ticks?
Finding ticks on your dog is not easy, especially if they have long, thick fur. After returning from a long hike in the woods, run a Tick Removing Comb (from Amazon) through your dog’s fur and check for Ticks.
Where Do Ticks Hide on Dogs?
Always check the following areas on your dog:
- Inside and Outside Ears
- Between their Toes
- Face and Chin
- Under the Tail
- Groin area
Check for any bumps between the size of a pin-head all the way up to the size of a small grape. Shine a light on your dog’s fur to see if that bump is just a skin tag or a tick by looking for little black legs between the bump and the dog’s skin.
Depending on how long they have been feeding, the tick may or may not be very big. During the tick inspection, remove your dog’s collar, they could be lurking underneath.
From my own experience, I usually find ticks around my dog’s ears or face. I have seen pictures of ticks in between dog’s toes and paws.. and it is just nasty to look at. Always check all over. You don’t want your dog to get infested. One Tick can multiply fast!
Removing A Tick From Your Dog:
While feeding, ticks bury their heads into your dog’s skin. If you see a tick attached to your dog, remove it right away! If the tick is not yet anchored to your dog’s skin, it ‘may not’ have transmitted any disease.
Pulling a tick out of a dog’s skin with tweezers sometimes can detached the tick’s head. If the tick’s head gets stuck inside your dog’s skin, this can lead to an infection or sometimes the head will just fall out on it’s own.
I started using Tick Removal Tools (from Amazon) instead and they are so much easier to use! They remove the Whole Tick, no head left behind. Keep in mind, sometimes tweezers are the only tool to remove a tick in those hard to reach places like in between your dog’s toes or deep inside the ear. So, it is best to have both tools available.
The Tick Key and the Tick Twister are two of my Absolute Favorite Tick Removal Tools!
1. The Tick Key
With the Tick Key (from Amazon), you simply put the tick’s body through the largest part of the opening in the key, slide it down so the smallest part of the opening is around the tick, and give it a pull. The Tick Key Safely removes the tick body and embedded head easily. See the Tick Key YouTube Video.
2. Tick Twister
With the Tick Twister (from Amazon), you put the prongs on either side of the tick and twist upward.It removes the tick without squeezing it, reducing the risk of infection, and doesn’t leave tick head in the skin.
The Tick Twister Remove ticks in a few seconds without pain. It removes small and large ticks. See the Tick Twister YouTube Video.
Natural Ways to Remove A Tick From Your Dog
1. Soap Soaked Cotton Ball:
The Soap Soaked Cotton Ball method can be used for dogs or humans. This method is more of a “home remedy” that some dog owners swear by. The great thing about this method is there is no squeezing or twisting, the risk of leaving a head behind or having the tick regurgitate its toxins is reduced.
It is a helpful solution for removing ticks that are in those hard to reach spots where tweezers and tick remover tools just won’t work.
First, apply some liquid dish soap (Dawn Dish Soap preferred) to a cotton ball. Then, Cover the tick with the soap-soaked cotton ball and move it around in circles for about 40 seconds. The tick should come on it’s own and be stuck to the cotton ball when you lift it away. If you are afraid you dog is sensitive to some soaps, try using dog shampoo instead.
2. Wet Q-tip Method:
Wet a Q-Tip with clove essential oil. Clove oil is a tick repellent. Rub your oiled up Q-tip in a circle around and around the tick. This motion will agitating the little critter and making it rotate with the Q-tip until it backs out. Then, put that little sucker into some isopropyl alcohol to kill it.
Check out this video at on YouTube for a great demo of this technique with just a Q-tip and water.
What to Do if a Tick Head Gets Stuck in Your Dog’s Skin
Do not try to dig out the rest of the tick from your dog’s skin, you could make the wound much worse than it already is. Generally, your dog’s body will get rid of the tick naturally, but if it doesn’t, you can contact your vet for help.
Even if you try your best to be careful when removing a tick from your dog’s skin, it is common for the tick’s head get left behind when a tick is removed, especially with tweezers.
Don’t worry about it too much. Continue to keep the area clean and inspect it periodically for any inflammation or infection.
How Do You Kill Ticks?
Drop the tick into isopropyl alcohol to kill it! Flushing the tick down the toilet won’t kill it. Do not squish the tick between your fingers. The tick-borne diseases can be transmitted to you if you touch it with your fingers, yuck!
Directions: Put the tick in a glass jar or plastic ziplock baggie. Then, add a teaspoon of rubbing alcohol. The alcohol will kill the tick.
Next, write down the date you found the tick. Keep an eye on the area where the tick was to see if an infection surfaces. Save the container for a few weeks. If your dog shows any symptoms of illness, take the tick to your vet for an examination.
What Diseases Can Your Dog Get from a Tick?
Unfortunately, One tick is enough to transmit a life-threatening disease to you or your dog. The Following diseases can affect humans and dogs:
10 Diseases Ticks Can Transmit:
A tick’s saliva can cause several toxins to be released into your dog’s bloodstream, which can cause your dog to become lame or paralyzed. This is called Tick Paralysis.
Sometimes, a dog owner may think that their dog’s paralysis is permanent and may decide to euthanize the dog! You and your vet should always check for ticks before such drastic decisions are made. The good new is usually after the tick has been removed, this paralysis condition wares off. 1
Symptoms of a Tick-Borne Disease
Many symptoms of a tick bite may take days or weeks before your dog exhibits any symptoms.
If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, contact your veterinarian ASAP.
Symptoms of Ticks on Dogs:
- Loss of appetite
How Does a Tick Bite?
Ticks search for soft warm skin areas with little to no hair to feed on. It then secretes a numbing chemical so that the host doesn’t feel their mouth-parts cut through their skin.
Then, the tick inserts a feeding tube and feeds on blood until it is full. Their mouth-parts are barbed so that your dog can’t scratch to get rid of the tick. When the tick is full, it will fall off on its own.
Not all ticks transmit disease, but all tick bites should be taken seriously. It may take several hours to transmit a tick-borne disease to a host. The sooner a tick is located and removed, the lower the risk of a transmitted disease. 1