It’s not uncommon for a dog to have ticks. These pesky parasites are very adept at attaching themselves to your dog’s coat, even if you do your best to avoid them. Luckily there are simple ways to help prevent, and treat, ticks on dogs.
What are dog ticks?
Ticks are eight-legged parasites that bite your dog to drink their blood. Although dog ticks are very tiny, they can swell up to the size of a pea once they’ve attached themselves to your dog by burying their mouthparts into their skin.
There are several types of tick that can affect dogs in the UK, including dog ticks, sheep ticks and hedgehog ticks. They can also bite humans too, and some ticks can transmit diseases.
How do I spot ticks on my dog?
Dog ticks are just large enough to be visible, especially if they’ve already had a bite – then they can look like small warts, and on closer inspection you can see their legs, too. You’ll usually find them around your dog’s head and neck area - just part your dog’s fur and run your fingers along their skin. Tick bites on dogs can also cause irritation and redness.
The best time to check your dog for ticks is as soon as you get back from your daily walks. Be sure to check for any lumps and bumps as ticks will usually feel similar to a small bump (which can sometimes be mistaken for a little skin swelling or mass). The key areas to inspect are the head, neck, ears and feet as these are where they’re most commonly found.
Ticks can start to pass on diseases in as little as 24 hours, so it is important that they’re found and removed as soon as possible in order to reduce the risk of transmission of potentially harmful organisms.
Removing a tick from a dog can be difficult because it’s important that you get the whole tick out without leaving its mouthparts buried in your dog’s skin, as this could lead to an infection. If you’re not sure how to remove the tick or you have difficulty trying to get it all out, take your dog to a vet.
What you’ll need to remove ticks from a dog
Before you start removing the tick from the dog, there’s a few things you’ll need to make the process easier and to prevent possible infection.
- A tick removing tool – these tools can be purchased from pet shops or your vet
- Disposable gloves
- Dog friendly disinfectant
- An extra pair of hands to keep your dog still
- A jar with a lid
How do I remove dog ticks?
Spot-on treatments, collars, and sometimes even tablets can all help either repel dog ticks, or kill them if they attach themselves to your dog. There are lots of options available, so ask your vet which is most suitable. These preventatives will either be available through your vet or, in some cases, at a pet shop.
Are dog ticks dangerous?
Your dog won’t usually come to any harm when they have ticks. However, while they’re not dangerous in themselves, ticks can sometimes pass on diseases from other animals.
For examples, ticks can pass on Lyme disease. This would need to be treated by your vet, as well as getting rid of the ticks. Lyme disease can also be passed on to humans, so if you have been bitten by a tick and feel unwell, visit a GP.
If your dog has been bitten by a tick and you’re worried about their, health visit the vet for more advice.
Can humans be bitten by dog ticks?
Many kinds of tick don’t mind what animal they attach themselves to – including you! When you are removing ticks from your dog, try to make sure you don’t get any yourself.
Humans can be bitten by dog ticks too. Bites can cause irritation or, in some cases, pass on illnesses. If you are bitten by a tick, safely remove it without leaving the mouthpart behind. To be on the safe side, if you have been bitten don’t hesitate to see your GP, even if you feel well.
Ticks are certainly something that you don’t want your dog to have, but if you do notice them, the process is simple – remove them safely, and see your vet for advice.