How to Check Your Dog For Ticks

How to Protect your Dog from Ticks

Pet Health Tips on Ticks

Why the fuss?

A common myth about ticks was that the insect was not harmful. This is not true. It was thought that tick bitings of humans and our dogs was just an annoyance, but recent studies prove otherwise. Ticks–including deer ticks–are most active March through November. But ticks can survive cold winter frosts and can still bite, even in the snow.

The most prevalent ticks for pet health safety are the deer ticks, or Lone Star ticks. Deer ticks are the only ticks that can carry and transfer Lyme Disease. Other species carry other disease causing bacteria like Babesia protozoa, Anaplasma, Ehrlichia. These can be a problem for humans and dogs alike.

Deer ticks are about the size of a sesame seed.


Lyme disease is the most common disease stemming from tick transmitted disease in the world. Only 5-10% of infected dogs show signs of the disease, so it is important to check your dog periodically for bites.

Long haired breeds like Shetland Sheepdog, Golden Retrievers, and Bernese Mountain Dogs are more susceptible to ticks because their long hair provides more hiding space.

The most common symptom of a dog developing Lyme Disease is recurring lameness of the legs. Dogs will will lift their paw, or hobble around without putting weight on one leg.

Joint inflammation is what causes this lameness. Symptoms begin to develop a week after the bite occurs. Sometimes symptoms will recede, but then reoccur a few days, or weeks later in the same or different legs. This is called \”Shifting Leg Lameness.\”

Kidney problems are another development of Lyme Disease. One of more joints may appear swollen, warm, or painful if kidneys are affected. If a dog is affected by Lyme Disease it can lead to a glomerulonephritis– a dysfunction of the kidneys glomeruli (blood filter).

If kidney failure sets in, signs are vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, weight loss, increased urination and thirst, and abnormal fluid buildup.

Symptoms of Tick Causing Poor Pet Health:

  • Stiffness
  • Arched Back
  • Difficult Breathing
  • Fever
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Depression
  • Superficial Lymph nodes around the area of the bite.
  • Heart Abnormalities
  • Nervous System Complications

Check Your Dog\’s Coat and Skin

Ticks do not jump or fly. They latch on from the ground and climb upwards. Usually, ticks are drawn to moist and dark areas of the body. Dogs that spend a lot of time outside, or within states that have large deer populations, are more susceptible to picking up a deer tick.

It\’s always good to periodically check your dog at least once a week if you you live around deers, or your dog is outside a lot.  If you see your dog exhibiting any symptoms you need to check for ticks. Frequently checking prevents Lyme Disease development, but can also save you money from veterinarian consultation fees.

Pet Health Steps to Check Dog\’s Coat

  1. Look for irritated or red areas on the skin that is inflamed.
  2. Use fingers like a comb to run your hands through your dog\’s coat checking for lumps or bumps that protrude upwards.
  3. Use a flashlight to check your dog\’s ears thoroughly. Check the flaps of their ear, and peer down the ear canal.
  4. Use a fine toothed comb to brush down their coat. If you hit a bump or snag do not force the comb through it. This can cause your dog pain. Instead identify the cause of the bump, and make note of it\’s position.
  5. If you observe your dog with common symptoms or see any bites on their skin, please take your dog to veterinarian for professional pet health diagnosis.

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