Ticks On Dogs: How To Check For & Remove Ticks

Key takeaway

Ticks are a type of parasite that feed off the blood of animals. Dogs may pick up ticks from tall grass they walk through or from other animals. Removing ticks from dogs is important because it helps prevent further complications.

Ticks are one of the most important things to know about as a pet parent. When you take your dog for a walk in the woods or let them run free in a field of tall grass, there’s a chance a tick could attach to them. Your job as a pet parent is to know about the different types of ticks and what to do about them, and occasionally check your dog to make sure they don’t have any ticks attached.

The good news is that ticks aren’t generally a huge problem. You can remove most ticks on dogs at home, and the tick often falls out even if you don’t properly remove the entire thing. What’s important is knowing how to search your dog for ticks, identify types of ticks, and remove them.

If you want to know more about how to get rid of ticks on dogs, we’ve got you covered.

Ticks on dogs infographic: statistics and tips regarding preventing ticks on your dog

What Are Ticks?

Ticks are a type of parasitic arachnid that feeds on the blood of the host animal they attach to. These parasites can attach to animals as well as humans, and there are several types of ticks that may affect your dog.

The big concern with ticks is that they can transmit various diseases to dogs, including Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Q fever, Lyme disease, and ehrlichiosis. Even if they don’t transmit one of these diseases, ticks can release toxins into your dog’s body that can cause complications such as bacterial infections.

Graphic with images of common types of ticks

Types Of Ticks

As a pet parent, it’s important to know about some of the different types of ticks on dogs, what they look like, and where they’re found. Different types of ticks prefer different types of hosts and are found in different areas. Here are some of the most common ticks on dogs:

  • Blacklegged Tick: Blacklegged ticks are primarily found in the eastern United States, including the Northeast, Upper Midwest, and Mid-Atlantic regions. These ticks are more commonly found during the spring, summer, and fall, but they may also search for hosts when temperatures aren’t freezing during the winter. Blacklegged ticks are commonly found on people, so they’re not just a danger to your dog.

  • American Dog Tick: The American Dog Tick is commonly found in areas east of the Rocky Mountains, but these ticks can also be found in limited numbers on the Pacific coast. American Dog Ticks typically look for a host during the spring or summer, so that’s when bites are most likely to occur. These ticks are perhaps best known for transmitting Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which can cause various complications in dogs and humans.

  • Lonestar Tick: As the name might suggest, the Lonestar Tick is most commonly found in the southern part of the United States. However, they can also be found in parts of the eastern United States. Lonestar Ticks can cause various complications in humans and dogs, including human ehrlichiosis. These ticks typically bite between spring and fall, and the females are easily identifiable by the white dot on their back.

  • Brown Dog Tick: The Brown Dog Tick is found throughout the world, making it one of the most common types of ticks on dogs. Brown Dog Ticks primarily feed on the blood of dogs, but they may also bite humans. These ticks are known for transmitting Rocky Mountain spotted fever, so it’s important to keep yourself and your dog free of Brown Dog Ticks.
  • Graphic listing signs of ticks


    Signs Of Ticks

    Ticks are relatively small, so you might not notice a tick in your dog’s skin right away. Instead, it’s important to know some of the signs of ticks on dogs so you can search your dog for ticks if they’re acting strange. That being said, tick bite symptoms vary depending on the species of tick.

    If you don’t spot a tick on your dog, you might notice they have a fever, scabs, bumps on their skin, or that their head is shaking. If you notice any of these signs in your dog, you should check them for ticks and take them to the vet.

    The easiest way to tell if your dog has ticks is to check for them. Ticks are fairly easy to spot if you know what you’re looking for, and you can remove the tick on your own once you’ve found it.

    What does a tick look like on a dog?

    So, what does a tick look like on a dog? Ticks burrow head-first into their hosts, which allows them to feed on the blood of that host. If your dog has been bitten by a tick, you’ll notice a small bump on their skin where the tick bit them. This bump is the butt of the tick, which is the part you can grab to remove a tick.

    An embedded tick is generally about the size of an apple or orange seed, although it depends on the type of tick and how much they’ve fed. The more ticks feed, the larger they get. Colors may also vary depending on the type of tick.

    Graphic explaining how to check dog for ticks

    How To Check Your Dog For Ticks

    Checking your dog for ticks regularly is an important part of being a pet parent, especially if your dog spends a lot of time outside. You should always check your dog for ticks after taking them out in the woods or to an open field to play. Luckily, checking for ticks on dogs is simple:

    • Start by gently running your fingers through your dog’s fur to feel for bumps
    • Look near the ears, eyelids, collar, legs, toes, and around the tail

    If you find a tick, you can move on to the next step: removing it.

    Tick Removal Tips 

    Removing ticks from dogs is fairly simple, but it’s important to do it right. Here are some tips for removing ticks from your dog:

    • Remove ticks immediately with tweezers
    • If several ticks are present, take your dog to the vet
    • Pull straight upward with steady pressure
    • Avoid twisting the tick, which can cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in your dog’s skin
    • Avoid crushing the tick to minimize the risk of spreading disease
    • Thoroughly clean the area you removed the tick from when you’re finished
    Owner checking dog for ticks

    Ticks On Dogs: FAQs

    What should I do if my dog has ticks?

    If your dog has ticks, the first thing you should do is try to figure out where those ticks are embedded. For dogs who only have a tick or two embedded in their skin, you can remove ticks at home with tweezers. If your dog has several ticks embedded in their skin, you should take them to a vet to make sure they’re all removed properly. Timely tick removal is essential when it comes to preventing the spread of disease.

    What happens if a tick is not removed from a dog?

    Removing ticks from your dog is important. If you don’t remove ticks on dogs at an early stage, they can spread various diseases including Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease. Tick bites can also lead to bacterial skin infections and other complications, so you should always remove ticks when you find them.

    Do ticks lay eggs on dogs?

    Unlike other parasites, ticks don’t lay eggs on their host. Instead, ticks feed on the blood of dogs until they become engorged, at which point they lay their eggs in another location. Even though ticks don’t lay eggs, their presence can be dangerous for dogs because of all the diseases they can spread and the bacterial infections a tick bite can cause.

    Dog playing in tall grass

    Final Notes

    Ticks are one of the most important things to know about as a pet parent, and that includes how to remove ticks on dogs. Fortunately, a little detective work and a pair of tweezers can help you keep ticks at bay. Remember, removing ticks right away is an important part of preventing the spread of disease.

    If your dog has a tick problem and you need help from a vet, Dutch is here to help. Dutch can connect you with vets in your area who can video chat with you to offer expert advice and help diagnose your dog. Contact us today to learn more about how Dutch simplifies pet care through telemedicine for pets.

    Dr. Evans is the Clinical Director of Dutch and the owner of Coastal Animal Hospital.