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How to Properly Check Your Dog for Ticks

Updated: Jun 14


Dog getting checked for ticks

As the warmer weather approaches, so does tick season. It's essential to keep your doggy safe from these pesky critters, especially if your dog has conditions like Canine Epilepsy. In this guide, we'll walk you through the importance of regular tick checks and the proper techniques to keep your pup tick-free and healthy.

Why Tick Checks Are Crucial for Dog Health

Ticks are more than just a nuisance; they can transmit diseases such as Lyme disease and Canine Ehrlichiosis, which can pose serious risks to your dog's health. For dogs with conditions like Canine Epilepsy, preventing tick bites is even more critical as tick-borne illnesses can exacerbate their condition. Regular tick checks can help identify and remove ticks within the first 24h before they have a chance to transmit any harmful pathogens.

Routine and Frequency of Tick Checks

Make tick checks a routine part of your dog's day, especially during peak tick season, which typically spans from spring to autumn. Get in the routine of daily tick checks, particularly if your dog spends a lot of time outdoors in grassy or wooded areas. Additionally, give your dog a thorough inspection after each outdoor adventure, whether it's a walk in the park or a hike in the countryside. Routine tick checks can also be a great bonding time for you and your dog, as the process involves a lot of pets, cuddles, and scratches!

Best Technique for Checking Your Dog for Ticks

When checking your dog for ticks, start by running your hands over their entire body, paying close attention to areas where ticks are commonly found, such as the ears, neck, underarms, and between the toes. Use your fingertips to feel for any small bumps or lumps, as ticks can sometimes be difficult to spot, especially in dogs with thick fur. Be sure to check closely around the head, as ticks are often attracted to warm, moist areas. Make sure to check inside the ears and gum lines, around the eyes and toes, as well as under the collar and chin for ticks.

 

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Step-by-Step Guide: How to Check Your Dog for Ticks

Checking your dog for ticks should be a regular part of your grooming routine, especially during tick season. Follow these steps to ensure thorough tick checks:

Step 1: Prepare Your Dog and Area

Before you begin, find a comfortable and well-lit area to examine your dog. Lighting is important as it helps you assess any lumps and bumps you feel during the tick check. Have a treat handy to reward them for their cooperation during the check. Ideally, make sure you have a tweezer and somewhere to dispose of the tick nearby in case you find any unwanted pests on your dog.

Step 2: Start at the Tip of the Nose

Begin by gently running your hands over your dog's head, paying close attention to areas where ticks are commonly found. Do a thorough check inside the ears, around the eyes and eyelids. Run your fingers along the gum line for any signs of ticks.Scratch their head and under their chin.

Step 3: Move to the Neck and Collar Area

Continue your inspection by examining your dog's neck and collar area. Ticks are often attracted to warm, moist areas, so be sure to check under the collar and around the chin for any ticks hiding in the fur–this is one of their favourite places to hang out. Push the fur back as you’re scratching to see as much as you can down to the skin. Stop and check any lump or bump you feel on your dog’s body to make sure it is not a tick.

Step 4: Check the Body

Next, run your hands over your dog's entire body, feeling for any small bumps or lumps that may indicate the presence of a tick. Pay particular attention to areas such as the underarms, groin, and between the toes, where ticks are more likely to attach. Ticks love warm and moist areas, so these folds of skin between the arms and body, toes, and crotch are common places for Ticks to hide out.

Step 5: Part the Fur

For dogs with thick fur, it may be challenging to spot ticks visually. Use your fingertips to gently part the fur and inspect the skin underneath. Look for any unusual bumps or dark spots that could be ticks. If you find a bump on your dog, try to pull back the fur in good lighting to see if it is a tick, or just a little mole on your dog’s body.

Step 6: Check the Legs and Tail

Continue your inspection down your dog's legs and along the tail, feeling for any signs of ticks as you go. Ticks can attach themselves anywhere on the body, so be thorough in your examination.

Step 7: Complete the Check

Once you have examined your dog's entire body, go back and double-check any areas where ticks are commonly found, such as the ears, neck, and underarms. Take your time and be meticulous in your inspection to ensure no ticks are missed.

Step 8: Reward Your Dog

After completing the tick check, be sure to reward your dog with praise and a treat for their cooperation. This positive reinforcement will help make future tick checks a more enjoyable experience for both of you.

Step 9: Record Your Findings

If you discover any ticks during the check, record their location and size. This information can be helpful for monitoring your dog's health and informing your veterinarian if necessary. Then follow our guide here for safely removing ticks from your dog.

By following these steps and conducting regular tick checks, you can help keep your dog safe from tick-borne diseases and ensure their continued health and well-being.

 

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Keeping Your Dog Still During Tick Checks

You might be worried about keeping your dog still during tick checks. especially if they're squirmy or anxious. Remember, most of the tick check should feel like a nice cuddle and rub, as you scratch them and pet them all over searching for those tiny pests! Try to make the experience as pleasant as possible by offering treats, praise, cuddles and scratches to reward calm behaviour. If necessary, enlist the help of a friend or family member to hold your dog steady while you perform the inspection. Patience and gentle handling are key to ensuring a successful tick check.

Using Natural Tick Repellents

For pet parents who prefer natural alternatives, there are various options available for repelling ticks. Essential oils such as cedarwood, eucalyptus, and lavender have been known to have tick-repelling properties. Additionally, products containing ingredients like neem oil or diatomaceous earth can help deter ticks without the use of harsh chemicals.

While natural tick repellents can be effective, it's essential to remember that they may not offer the same level of protection as traditional chemical-based products. Therefore, if you choose to use natural repellents, you should be even more diligent with your tick checks. Natural repellents may need to be reapplied more frequently, especially after swimming or exposure to rain.

Why Diligent Tick Checks Are Crucial with Natural Repellents

Even with chemical repellents, routine tick checks are recommended as no repellent is 100% effective. Similarly, natural tick repellents provide a layer of protection against ticks, but they are not bulletproof. Ticks can still latch onto your dog despite the use of repellents, particularly in areas with high tick populations. Therefore, it's essential to conduct thorough tick checks on your dog, even if you're using natural repellents.

Regular tick checks can help you catch any ticks that may have managed to bypass the repellent and attach themselves to your dog's skin. By promptly removing any ticks you find, you can reduce the risk of tick-borne diseases and keep your canine companion healthy and happy.

Conclusion

While natural tick repellents can be a safer alternative for some pet owners, they require extra diligence when it comes to tick prevention. By combining natural repellents with regular tick checks, you can provide your dog with comprehensive protection against ticks and the diseases they carry. Remember to always choose products that are safe and effective for your pet, and consult with your veterinarian if you have any concerns.

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