Most dog owners will have come across the pesky parasites that are ticks. They lurk in grassy areas such as fields, meadows, woodland and gardens. So everywhere our dogs love to walk and play!
More than just an itchy annoyance for our pooches, ticks can also carry some nasty diseases, most notably Lyme disease. This can have devastating, long-lasting side effects (if not recognised and properly treated), affecting both muscle and nerve cells, so knowing how to check your dog for ticks is a must.
What do ticks look like?
Before they’ve started feeding, ticks are flat and oval in appearance with eight legs - you might even mistake the adults ones for tiny spiders. They can be anywhere between 1mm to 1cm long. From pale cream to dark brown, the colour of ticks also varies, so the next one you detach from Fido could look completely different to the last one.
As ticks gorge on the blood of whichever unlucky mammal they’ve clung to, they grow. By the time you spot one on your hound, it could have swelled to the size of a fingernail!
How do I know if my dog has a tick?
Chances are you’ll be able to spot it, especially once it has become bloated from feeding.
They can be easily hidden under all that fur though, so it may be that you feel it when stroking your pooch. It’s a good habit to do a quick check for ticks after each walk; simply run your hands over your dog’s body with enough pressure to feel for any unusual small bumps.
Mild to high fevers, loss of appetite, pain and tiredness could also be signs that a tick has made themselves at home on your dog.
Common places ticks live on dogs
While you could find a tick hiding just about anywhere on your four-legged pal, they love the warmest places most.
How do I remove a tick from my dog?
Slowly and carefully. Pull it out too quick and you risk part of the tick remaining embedded, which can lead to inflammation and infection.
You may have heard about techniques that ‘suffocate’ the tick in order to remove them, such as smothering with Vaseline. Again, this could lead to infection and disease transmission, as stressed ticks may regurgitate their bloody meal back into your dog - yuck!
We recommend speaking with your vet about the best way to remove ticks, as they’ll be able to show you in person. The basics though, are to use a pair of tweezers - the pointier, the better - to grab and pull it out, using steady pressure and a straight motion.
Examine the tick once it is out to make sure no parts have been left behind, and then reward your pet for letting you remove their unwanted buddy.