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DOG / grooming

Ticked Off: Preventing and Removing Ticks on Your Dog

Protect your pet from these dangerous parasites

Overview

Tick 101

Ticks are common parasites that can lurk in damp, grassy, bushy or wooded areas — even on sandy beaches. If a tick finds its way onto an animal — like your dog, your cat or you — it’ll latch on and suck its host’s blood. Ticks are most active in spring, summer and fall, but they’re hardy and can survive at temperatures below freezing. There are many species of ticks, but they can all be killed with the same treatment.

Why the big fuss about ticks? These parasites can transmit several diseases, including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme, Typhus, Tick Paralysis and Ehrlichiosis (a bacterial infection that causes flu-like symptoms).

How to spot a tick?

Give dogs and cats a good visual check every time they come in from outside. Ticks like to lurk in dark, closed spots, like the insides of ears, between the toes and footpads, in the armpits and under the tail. Check your pets all over just to be safe.

Yuck, I see one. How do I get it off my pet?

Here’s the best method to remove a tick:

  1. Swab the little vampire with rubbing alcohol, which can annoy it into loosening its bite.
  2. Use tweezers to grab the tick right at its head — not on its body — and steadily pull, without twisting. Do not try to burn the tick off (you’re likely to burn your pet or yourself) or to smother it with petroleum jelly (this does not work).
  3. To kill the tick once it’s removed, douse it in rubbing alcohol. Do not flush a live tick down the toilet; doing so may not kill it. And do not squash it with your fingers, because its insides can transmit disease.
  4. Clean your pet’s tick bite with alcohol and apply an antibiotic ointment. You might see a little swelling around the bite later on. This is because ticks have toxic saliva (as if they needed any more unpleasant features). But the swelling should go down fairly soon.
  5. Wash your hands well.
  6. If you’re concerned about tick-borne diseases, take your pet to the vet for a quick inspection.

Stay tick-free

  • Remove anything from your home or yard that ticks might hide in, including old boxes, old newspapers and stored firewood.
  • Keep the grass on your property cut short. (Ticks like tall grass.) Limit your pet’s access — and your own — to potential tick hangouts, including wooded areas, woodpiles, stone fences and underbrush.
  • Check yourself and your pet for ticks when you come inside.
  • Use a monthly topical treatment such as Advantage, K9 Advantix or Frontline Plus, which will kill ticks on your pet. Do not use dog flea-and-tick products on cats or vice versa.
  • Consider having your dog vaccinated against Lyme Disease.
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