What You Need To Know About Dog Ticks And How To Protect Your Pet

check dogs for ticks

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Tickborne diseases are on the rise, and with it, the risk of spreading these diseases to your dog. Tick awareness is important, because of the risks they pose to your pet and also because they can spread diseases to other people.

As a dog parent, you desire nothing less than the best for your puppy. Ticks love to latch onto your dog’s fur and can cause detrimental side effects to your dog.

Because their fur can be heavy and thick, ticks are often challenging to locate. However, it is still vital that you frequently check your dog’s fur since ticks can be active all year round.

When are Ticks Most Active?

According to the New York Department of Health, adult ticks are most active from March to mid-May and then from mid-August to November.

As long as the temperature is above freezing, ticks can be active.

Tick “season” can be spring, summer, or fall. Warmer climates, however, battle ticks even in winter.

Believe it or not, we actually even had ticks starting to spread all the way up in Alaska and we still have them in the high mountains of Colorado. We live at 9000+ ft elevation and our vet still has seen them up here. 

check dog for ticks - dog chewing base of tail

Places on Your Dog to Check for Ticks

These bloodsucking arachnids can transmit several harmful diseases to your dog, necessitating frequent body checks. It is crucial to be aware of the most common places ticks like to latch on dogs.

If your dog has thick fur, you will need a fine comb to search for the tick at these places. According to the American Kennel Club, ticks feed on any part of your dog. Some common areas you should not forget to check are:

Inside of ears

Dogs are extra curious. They will likely stick their heads into everything they can while outdoors. Downed tree trunks, rodent holes, anything!

People frequently don’t think of dog’s ears as a spot to check for ticks. However, they attach inside of ears just as commonly as any other body part.

In-between toes

Do you notice your puppy habitually chewing or licking his paws? If so, a hidden tick attached to the bottom of his paw or in-between his toes could be the culprit.

Beneath the tail

Ticks often attach beneath the tail (particularly at the base) since the surrounding areas are hidden, dark, and damp.

Genital area

Because dog owners typically forget to check these southern regions, ticks can latch for extended periods of time. Similar to the base of the tail, ticks prefer to attach in darker, wetter areas.


Ticks can also be identified around your pup’s eyelids. They are often mistakenly disregarded as eye discharge. The longer the tick is missed, the more likely your dog will have issues with it.

Under the Collar

It is easy to forget to examine underneath the collar since it often remains fitted around your dog’s neck. When bathing and checking your pup for ticks, remove the collar since they frequently attach themselves beneath the collar.

Full Body

As mentioned previously, ticks can latch anywhere on your dog’s body-his head, back, belly, legs, etc. When practicing these regular examinations, it is imperative that you observe every body part–the visible and the not-so-visible.

While it can be time-consuming, the more commonly you perform checks, the less likely your dog will be infected with a disease. If you make it part of your routine, your dog will get used to it and allow you to quickly check them over without issue.

The Top Five Tick Diseases

According to PetMD, ticks carry several harmful diseases that can detrimentally affect your pup. The top five tick-borne diseases in dogs are as follows:

Lyme Disease

Often, ticks carry Lyme disease which is caused by the bacteria Borrelia Burgdorferi. Deer ticks carry this bacteria in particular.

To transmit this bacteria into your dog’s blood, the tick must be attached to your pup for forty-eight hours.

Lyme disease can be identified through a variety of signs. If your dog is infected with this disease, he will be showing signs of fever, lameness, decreased appetite, and swollen lymph nodes and joints.

Unfortunately, Lyme disease can initiate severe health conditions. In the worst of cases, your dog could develop kidney and heart diseases or nervous system disorders. You can vaccinate your dog or treat him with oral antibiotics.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Rocky Mountain spotted fever most commonly affects dogs in the Midwest, east, and plain regions of the United States.

For transmission, the tick must be latched for five hours. Infected dogs show signs of diarrhea, fever, decreased appetite, joint pain, vomiting, lameness, and even depression.

More severely, dogs can acquire heart abnormalities, seizures (and other neurological effects), liver damage, kidney failure, and pneumonia. Oral antibiotics are utilized for treatment.


Ehrlichiosis infects dogs by the Lone Star tick and brown dog tick. Your infected dog will show symptoms of depression, fever, bruising, joint pain, and decreased appetite.

Signs of infection occur less than a month after the bite, and antibiotic treatment lasts up to four weeks.


Anaplasmosis can infect dogs with different bacteria, transmitted by deer ticks, western black-legged ticks, and brown dog ticks.

A few weeks after transmission, your dog will demonstrate symptoms of nervous system disorders, joint pain, fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. Oral antibiotics can be used to treat Anaplasmosis for up to a month.

Tick Paralysis

Tick paralysis results when the tick releases a toxin that harms the dog’s nervous system.

In roughly a week, the dog will exhibit symptoms of weakness in the rear legs before affecting all limbs. He will also have difficulty swallowing and breathing.

In the worst case, the paralysis could result in your dog’s death if not quickly treated with antitoxins or supportive treatment.

As a summarizing thought, many diseases can result from a tick inhabiting your pup’s fur.

Therefore, frequent, thorough examinations are essential. If you find a tick on your dog, hastily put on gloves and use tweezers or a tick remover to remove the tick. Then, wash your hands and cover your dog’s wound with an antiseptic.

The Humane Society offers several safe, beneficial steps in removing a tick. The more you check your dog, and the faster you identify a tick, the less susceptible your dog will be to tick-borne illnesses. The Tick Patrol Tick Remover Tool is a highly-reviewed tool that can be added to your keychain, so it’s handily available when you check your dog after a hike.

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