How to Check Your Dog for Ticks

Three Methods:Recognizing TicksChecking Your PetProtecting Your Dog from Ticks

Ticks are parasites that carry serious diseases, such as lyme disease and tick-borne fever. In order to help prevent your dog from getting these, you should get into the habit of checking your dog every day. Although it may seem simple, checking your dog for ticks can be time consuming, especially if your dog is large or if he has long hair.[1] However, this doesn't have to take too much time. There are some methods that can help your search go faster.

Method 1
Recognizing Ticks

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    Know the different types. When you start looking on your pet, there are three different types of ticks you may encounter. These types are all known for feeding off dogs. These species include:
    • Ixodes, also known as deer ticks, which range from lentil to beetle size, have black legs, a black thorax, a black head, and a tan colored body
    • Rhipicephalus, which are similar looking to Ixodes but instead have brown legs, and dark stripes on the underside of their tan bodies
    • Dermacentor, which have a similar look to Rhipicephalus, but are more bean-shaped[2]
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    Notice general tick behavior. When you first look for a tick, it can look a little bit like a flea if it is hungry. It may be a similar shape or size, but when you find it on his skin, a tick will not run away like a flea will. A tick attaches itself to your dog's skin so it has access to his blood.
    • If you aren't sure, you may need a magnifying glass in order to see the mouthparts of the tick biting into the skin.[3]
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    Handle full ticks. The ticks are unmoving once they start feeding, so they are easy to grab hold of. Full or feeding ticks may look different because they are engorged in blood. Full ticks can appear as large as a bean or grape and may have a grey, red, or brown abdomen area once it is filled with blood.[4]

Method 2
Checking Your Pet

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    Cut your dog's fur. In order to help you find ticks easier, cut your dog's fur short, especially if you have a shaggy or exceptionally furry dog. If you don't want to do it all year round, try it do it during tick season.
    • This makes it much easier to reach his skin faster and lessens the time it takes to check all of his body for ticks.[5]
    • If you don't want to cut your pet's fur, be prepared to spend more time looking. You will also have to be more thorough because there will be more fur covering his skin.
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    Use water. If you are having a hard time getting to your dog's skin, try using water to part your dog's fur. This is especially helpful if you find something you think might be a tick. Wet down the fur around the area where you think there might be a tick. This helps you see the parasite more clearly.
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    Use your fingertips to feel the skin. When checking your dog, use your fingertips. These areas are very sensitive, which means they are good for detecting any small anomalies on his skin. Avoid using your palm or full hand for checking the skin. They are not as sensitive as your fingertips. [6]
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    Check the legs. To start checking your dog for ticks, start at the right front leg. Start at the paw, checking between the toes, on the underside of his paw, and between the pads of his feet. Make your way up his leg, checking around the whole leg before moving up. Last, slide your hand along the armpit and around the shoulder.
    • Repeat the same steps on the opposite front leg and along the back legs.
    • While checking the back legs, make sure you also check the groin area, around the scrotum on male dogs, and around the vulva on female dogs. [7]
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    Examine the flank. Once his legs have been checked, you need to examine his flank. Start with your hands along his sides, his back, and his belly. Male and female dogs have nipples, so be aware that they are not ticks. [8]
    • Dogs can have between eight to 12 nipples, so be aware of these on his belly.[9]
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    Check the face. Once you've checked the rest of your dog, you need to move your way up to his face. Move your fingers along the neck and throat. Make sure to remove his collar so you can check underneath it. Next, check around his ears and along the inside of them as well. Then, move your hand gently around his head, lips, and chin.[10]
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    Be thorough. Before you start your search, make sure you have enough time to devote to it. You need to be thorough and meticulous, so it will take plenty of time. Although dogs are more likely to have ticks on their head, legs, paws, and neck, every part of the dog needs to be checked.[11]
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    Have gloves nearby. Lay some gloves nearby while you are checking your dog for ticks so you can use them if you find a tick. You don't want to deal with ticks without them since they are filled with blood. You could possibly get contaminated or bitten by the tick.[12]

Method 3
Protecting Your Dog from Ticks

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    Apply anti-tick protection. In order to help your dog stay free from ticks, you should give him anti-tick medication regularly. This can be oral medication or topical medication. The amount will vary depending on the size of your dog, so make sure you check the medication label for proper dosage.
    • Common treatments include shampoos, collars, ointments, and sprays.
    • Many treatments that prevent fleas also prevent ticks. Look for these treatments as well.
    • Make sure you keep up your regular tick checks even while giving them tick medication. These medications are effective, but they do not get rid of all tick and do not prevent disease. They need the ticks to feed on your dog, which means they have to latch on before they die.[13]
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    Clean your house. A good way to limit your dog's contact with ticks is to keep your house clean. If you dog happens to bring in a tick from outside that falls off before it can attach, it may end up on your furniture or on the carpet. Vacuuming or cleaning regularly will help prevent this.
    • You can also buy indoor tick prevention spray or powder that may help in these situations.[14]
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    Avoid wooded areas. Ticks thrive in wooded and grown up areas, so avoid taking your dogs to these areas. If you take your dog for a walk, keep him on a leash in order to prevent him from going in these areas.
    • If you have a backyard, keep the grass cut and remove debris from the area so ticks can't breed there. You can also treat your backyard with repellent to prevent ticks from getting in your yard.[15][16]

Article Info

Categories: Canine Health