What should I do if my dog has ticks?

How to remove a tick from a dog. What happens to a dog with a tick?

Ticks are the scourge of dog walks everywhere. Usually found in longer grass/meadows, health and woodland, a tick is a small creature which hooks itself onto skin as an obliging animal brushes by. But don’t assume your garden is tick-free… they really can be anywhere in grass or bushes. They have eight legs, like a spider, but have a round body more like a small beetle. Ticks are small and grey-brown but then when they latch onto the skin, their colour changes to reddy brown as their body fills with blood. So, what should I do if my dog has ticks?

When you get back from any walk it’s a good idea to feel over your dog’s skin for bumps or visual signs of invasion! 

Remember! You can pick up ticks too! Wear longer clothes - trousers and sleeves especially - in meadows or woodlands, and use an insect repellent on skin and clothing. 

What should I do if I find a tick?

It’s best to be armed in advance, so buy yourself a tick remover. These are cheap little tweezers that make the job much easier and safer for your dog. 

The Blue Cross has lots of guides and advice on tick removal here. This is their 5 step To Do list if you find a tick:

    1. Once you've located the tick, gently part your dog's fur so that you can easily reach the tick
    2. Get your tick remover and slowly push it under the tick
    3. When you have a firm grasp of the tick, twist it in a clockwise direction several times until the tick comes loose
    4. Take a look at your dog's skin and make sure the tick is completely removed
    5. Get rid of the tick by putting it in alcohol or popping it in tissue and flushing it down the toilet before washing your hands

General advice is to always use the tool and not try and do it by hand. It’s easier to squeeze the tick if you try and grab it and this could just make things worse. 


Why are ticks a problem?

Ticks carry bacteria that can cause disease, the most common of which is Lyme disease. The longer the tick stays in your dog’s skin, the more likely they are to transmit the disease. 

The last thing to note is that ticks are seasonal and high tick season is spring and summer. You are unlikely to find them by late autumn and there won’t be any to worry about in winter. 


What to look out for if your dog has had a tick

If your dog has a tick, there are a number of symptoms you should look out for to check for Lyme disease. Symptoms of Lyme disease can come and go, maybe not happening all at once. They include limping, low energy/lethargy, a fever, drinking more water (and so weeing more than usual), swollen glands vomiting, diarrhoea.  


Should I take my dog to the vets for a tick?

Lyme disease can be treated with a course of antibiotics, but early action is important so best to check with our vet if your dog is displaying any of these signs.