Ticks are one of those creatures that make you squirm, and for good reason: they suck your blood and transmit disease! Unfortunately, if your dog enjoys the outdoors, you’ll probably have to deal with them eventually.
Ticks are dangerous because complications associated with their bites include blood loss, anemia, paralysis, skin irritation or infection, and even more severe issues like Lyme disease.
To help you along, we created a quick and easy guide to checking, removing, and preventing ticks.
What are ticks?
Ticks are arachnids (yup, they are related to spiders). While there are many different types, the two species that your dog will most likely encounter in SoCal are the Brown Dog Tick and the American Dog Tick. If you live east of the Mississippi, you should also lookout for the Black-Legged Tick (also known as the deer tick).
How to check for ticks
Checking for ticks is simple; you just have to know where to look. Ticks love to hide in crevices and folds like between toes, armpits, and groin area. Pictured below are the seven common spots ticks like to hang out, and the first areas you should check after a hike or outdoor outing.
In order to find them, use your hands to feel for any bumps or discrepancies. For dogs with longer hair or thick undercoats, use a fine-toothed comb to move back fur and get a closer look.
How to remove ticks
You found a tick. Now what? Your first instinct may be to grab it with your fingers and pull it out. Do not do that. Incorrectly removing a tick with your fingers or tweezers can force the tick to burrow its head even deeper and detach from the rest of its body.
Since you don’t want a tick head stuck in your dog’s body, we have some simpler options.
Resultix is inexpensive, and you don’t have to do any digging. Just spray a few times and the tick will eventually fall off.
Use a tick remover tool
Using a tick remover tool is much more effective and easier than using tweezers. It is designed to reach under the head of the tick and pull it out whole.
Take your pup to a professional
If you are the type of person who doesn’t want to deal with any of this, there’s no shame in taking your pup to the vet or groomer for professional tick removal.
The first step in prevention is making sure your dog is on flea and tick medication. Be warned that some flea medications like Comfortis do not prevent against ticks. Ask your vet what they suggest for full protection.
While prevention medication will kill ticks that land on your dog, it will not prevent them from biting and latching onto your dog. Ticks often reside on the foliage that borders trails. Keeping your dog out of high grass areas and bushes, particularly in the summer, will reduce the exposure to ticks.
Not a fan of all the chemicals?
While essential oils can’t keep ticks off your dog, they can at least prevent them! At Fitdog, we love Mauro Petcare Products, which uses a unique blend of essential oils. Mauro’s Essential Elements Shampoos: Flea & Tick Formula uses a special combination of lavender, lemongrass, and cedarwood to ward off fleas and ticks and the Pest Repellant & Dry Shampoo can be applied daily before outdoor activities. The best part, your dog will smell like lavender!
Now that you are a tick expert, it’s time to take to the trails and have fun with your dog!
Originally posted 3/10/19. Updated 3/6/2020.