Everything You Need to Know About Ticks

What is a Tick?

Did you know that Ticks aren’t Insects?  Ticks are actually small arachnids, similar to spiders.  Adult ticks have eight legs, a round-shaped body, and are usually 3 to 5 mm in length.  They can be brown, black, or tan in color.

Ticks are ectoparasites, which means they live off of the blood of other animals, people, birds, reptiles, and amphibians.

TICK FACT #1: There are 200 known Tick species located in the United States.

When a Tick feeds off of one animal, it may contain germs or disease, which can then pass on to other host animals or humans later on.

Ticks can survive the cold winter months by living underground. When it gets warmer outside, they become more active and begin looking for hosts to feed on.

Ticks are usually found in forests, meadows, parks, and gardens.  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.

TICK FACT #2: A female tick can lay between three to seven thousand eggs in one sitting.

Female ticks will lay their eggs under sheltered areas in your yard, such as wood stumps, rocks, and wall crevices.  Once hatched, the larvae, called seed ticks, will crawl up grass stems or bushes and attach themselves to your dog if he passes by. Ticks can live for months in their surrounding habitat without a blood meal 4

TICK FACT #3: Ticks can swell up to 10 times its normal size from the blood it consumes.

What is the Difference Between Fleas and Ticks?

Fleas can jump, but Ticks crawl and climb. Ticks will remain in place while feeding and may not cause a lot of itching (which makes them hard to find). Fleas cause hot spots, while Ticks can cause illness.

How Does a Tick Bite?

When a tick has found a host to feed on, they usually search for soft warm skin areas with little to no hair. Once a tick has found a place to feed, it secretes a numbing chemical so that the host doesn’t feet their mouthparts cut through their skin.

Then, the tick inserts a feeding tube and feeds on blood until it is full.  Their mouthparts 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.

TICK FACT #4: A tick’s saliva contains so much bacteria that they are among the most potent disease carriers in the world.

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


How to Check Your Dog for Ticks?

Finding ticks on your dog is not easy. After returning from a long hike in the woods, always run your hand through your dog’s fur and check for Ticks.

Where Do Ticks Hide on Dogs?

Always check the following areas on your dog several times over:

  • Under the Tail
  • Groin area
  • Armpits
  • Inside and Outside Ears
  • Eyelids
  • Between their toes
  • Face and Chin

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.  Don’t forget to remove your dog’s collar during the tick inspection, they could be lurking underneath.

What Diseases Can Your Dog Get from a Tick?

Unfortunately, One tick is enough to transmit a life-threatening disease to you and your dog.
If the tick is not yet anchored to your dog’s skin, it may not have transmitted any disease.

A lot of these diseases can affect humans and dogs.


10 Diseases Ticks Can Transmit:

  • Rocky Mt. Spotted Fever (aka Tick Fever)

  • St. Louis Encephalitis

  • Tick Paralysis

  • Tularemia

  • Cytauxzoonosis

  • Lyme disease: (aka Canine Borreliosis)

  • Canine Ehrlichiosis

  • Hepatozoonosis

  • Anaplasmosis

  • Babesiosis

TICK FACT #5: Ticks also transmit Human Diseases including Malaria and HIV/AIDS.

A Note on Tick Paralysis:

A tick’s saliva can cause several toxins to be realeased into your dog’s bloodstream, which can cause your dog to become lame and possibly paralized.  This is called Tick Paralysis.  Often times, when a dog owner doesn’t see the tick on the dog, they may think that their dog’s paralysis is permanent.  What’s worse, they may even decide to euthanize the dog!  The good new is usually after the tick has been removed, this paralysis condition may ware off. 1

Symptoms of a Tick-Borne Disease

It is unfortunate that many symptoms of a tick bite may take days or weeks before your dog exhibits any symptoms. If symptoms aren’t detected early enough, it could lead to death. 3

TICK FACT #6: Female longhorned ticks don’t need a male to reproduce. They can spawn asexually and lay thousands of eggs, using a process known as parthenogenesis. These Ticks are native to Asia, but now have spread to the United States. 6

If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, contact your veterinarian ASAP.

Symptoms of ticks on dogs may include:

  • Redness
  • Intense itching
  • Inflammation
  • Swelling
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Pain
  • Paralysis

Removing the Tick From Your Dog:

While feeding, ticks bury their heads into a dog’s skin.  If you see a tick attached to your dog, remove it right away.  Prompt removal is essential to prevent the transmission of diseases or toxins that the tick may be carrying.

Use the following method to remove a tick from your dog:

1. Gather Recommended Equipment:

    • Rubber Gloves
    • Clean Fine-Point Tweezers or Tick Remover Tool
    • Disinfectant
    • Isopropyl Alcohol

2. Wear Gloves:

When removing the Tick from your dog,  always wear gloves on your bare hands.  This will prevent your own exposure to Lyme disease.

3. Use Tweezers:

    • You should use fine-point tweezers to avoid tearing the tick and spreading infections into the wound.
    • Grasp the tick as close to your dog’s skin as possible (try not to pinch your pet’s skin).
    • Grasp the tick without crushing it and pull it straight out

4. Cleanup and Disinfection:

Always, wash your hands and your dog’s wound with soap and water.   Then, wipe their wound with some peroxide on a cotton ball. Peroxide is recommended for tick bites because the oxygen it contains destroys the Lyme disease bacteria.

Lastly, apply an antibiotic ointment and disinfect your tweezers with isopropyl alcohol.

5. Kill the Tick:

Put the Tick in Isopropyl Alcohol to Kill it.  You can hang onto the container with the dead tick for your vet to test if you would like.

Continue to check on the tick bite area over the next few days for infection. Call the veterinarian if there is any problem. If you find more than one tick while performing your routine tick inspections, ask your vet for a dog flea and tick shampoo recommendation.

Honestly, Pulling a Tick out of my dog’s skin with tweezers wasn’t easy. Sometimes the head gets detached and stuck inside.  I started using Tick removal tools instead and they are so much easier to use.  They remove the Whole Tick, no head left behind.

Click to the next page [2] to Learn How to Prevent and Kill Ticks.