While some ticks remain active during the winter, most types of ticks spend the colder months in a state of inactivity, circling the warmer days of spring on the calendar as their time to emerge and get back to their pesky ways. For dog owners, ticks are an unavoidable part of life; this is especially true if you spend long periods outdoors. Ticks can carry a host of diseases that are easily transmittable to your dog, so it’s important to know what to look for.

The staff at DogWatch Hidden Fences has a lot of experience with ticks, both from our customers and our own dogs. Here is how you can safely identify and remove them, avoid them in the future, and keep you and your pup safe.

Does my dog have ticks?

Ticks, the tiny, eight-legged menace, are crafty and exceedingly talented at clinging onto your dog without you noticing. Here’s how to know if your dog has them. Check for ticks should be part of your daily routine, especially if you live near wooded areas, marshes, thick brush, or regularly hike or camp there. Rub your hands along your dog’s body feeling for bumps, and separate the fur to look for the tiny bugs. Be sure to check not only the torso but also inside and behind your dog’s ears, face, neck, legs, and between their toes. Reward your dog with treats and/or praise if they aren’t a fan of this process. 

How to check for ticks.

We hope your dog is delightfully tick-free this spring, but if he’s not, here’s what to do:

  • Find a helper who can gently hold your dog while you do the extraction.
  • With tweezers (not your fingers), grasp the tick as close to your dog’s skin as possible to ensure that you have hold of the tick’s head as well as its body.
  • Pull out the tick in a straight, steady motion. Do not yank quickly.
  • If you missed any larger pieces, try to get those with the tweezers.  Do not dig for smaller pieces; they should work themselves out naturally.
  • Place the removed tick in a small baggie or jar with a bit of rubbing alcohol, which will kill the tick. Save the tick in case your dog shows signs of sickness later; the tick may help the vet identify the problem later.
  • Clean your tweezers with rubbing alcohol
  • Wash your hands even if gloves were used.
  • Reward your pup with a treat for being a brave and cooperative patient.

For additional guidance, check out this helpful video:


Separating Tick Myths from Tick Facts

There are many myths associated with ticks that have floated around for years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “avoid folklore remedies such as “painting” the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly, or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin. Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible–not waiting for it to detach.”

More ticks removal no-no’s include:

  • Flushing ticks down the toilet will not kill them and just introduces them into our water supply. Submersion in alcohol is the best way to kill a tick.
  • Tweezers are always your best option for removing ticks. Using your ungloved fingers to remove ticks will increase the chance the head may remain and risks spreading disease to you. This goes for trying to crush the tick with your fingers as well.

Embedded Tick on Dog
Now that’s we’ve got the myths out of the way, here are a few key facts about ticks.

  • Ticks may be as small as the head of a pin, so check pets carefully.
  • Tick heads rarely stay in.
  • The wound caused by the tick may last for up to a week.
  • Hydrocortisone spray can help to soothe any discomfort.
  • The wound may scar, making a small bald spot on your pup.

Signs of Illness

If you do find and successfully remove a tick from your dog, unfortunately, you’re not quite yet out of danger. Over the next few days keep an eye out for signs your dog is feeling ill such as diarrhea, fatigue, depression, skin lesions, or seizures. If your dog is free of these symptoms, keep an eye on them for the next few weeks for possible joint soreness, rashes, lameness, fever, and loss of appetite.

If you notice any of these symptoms at any time, grab that tick you retrieved and head to your vet.

checking for tick on dog, How to Identify, Get Rid of, and Prevent Ticks on Your Dog

Tick Prevention

Tick prevention is just as important as tick checks and proper removal. All dog owners should take steps to minimize their dog’s exposure to these harmful parasites. Here are some prevention suggestions:

  • Use vet-recommended flea and tick treatments on your dog regularly, especially during tick season.
  • US residents, check out this online tool to track the tick risk level in your area. Canadian residents, visit CanLyme.com for more information about risk areas.
  • Keep your grass cut short, and keep weeds and brush to a minimum. Clear any debris that may be on your lawn.
  • Stay on paths (if possible) when hiking or walking in a wooded area with your dog.
  • If ticks are found on a human family member, be sure to check your dog and any other people in the house.

How a DogWatch® Hidden Fence can help protect your dog from ticks.

  • Restricting your dog’s access to tick-friendly areas of your property, such as gardens and undergrowth, will vastly decrease the possibility they encounter these pests. Using a DogWatch® Hidden Fence can ensure your pup does not have access to tick-populated areas.
  • You can also use DogWatch® Hidden Fences to keep your dog away from plants, bushes, and hedges near your home or on the boundaries of your property, eliminating the risk of brushing up against plants and giving easy access to ticks.
  • Contact your local DogWatch Dealer to learn more!

Ticks are an unavoidable nuisance, but that shouldn’t keep you and your dog from enjoying the great outdoors. The DogWatch® team wishes you lots of great outdoor adventures with your dog!