How I Met My Dog

Tick Check 101

Tis’ the season for tick bites. While ticks live all over the country, summer in the East half of the USA brings a boom of deer and dog ticks. There are 16 potential tickborne diseases that vary based on geographic location. Not all 16 are dangerous to dogs but preventing ticks on your dog is a great way to limit your own exposure to ticks and tickborne diseases. Lyme disease is the most common tickborne disease in humans and animals. A veterinarian or doctor can prescribe medication to treat Lyme but the symptoms are dangerous and uncomfortable. Taking tick prevention and treatment seriously is essential if you want to keep yourself and your pet happy and healthy. Consider these 3 tips to help prevent and combat tick bites on your furry friends and yourself.

1. Prevention

Tick prevention for dogs comes in various forms. Chewables, topicals, collars and sprays are the four most common categories. It’s wise to consult your veterinarian about what their favorite type and brand of tick prevention is. Your vet can also help you outline a tick prevention plan that lasts the duration of the life cycle of your local ticks.

While some prevention can be combined with others, some can’t and it’s important to know the difference in order to avoid accidentally overdosing your pet with tick medication. A spray can be combined with a chewable, topical or collar. In fact, it’s a great idea to use a natural pet and kid safe tick spray on your dog before all outdoor outings as a layer of added protection.

HIMMD staff picks:

Chewable: Bravecto

Collar: Seresto

Topical: Frontline Plus

Spray: Wondercide

When using any tick prevention method it’s important to read the directions and dosages carefully. When using a topical, be sure to wear gloves when applying and wash your hands directly after application. Do your best to avoid the application area while the topical seeps in and dries. Warn your kids of the serious side effects of ingesting tick ointment. If using a collar, remember to be wary of children and babies grabbing the collar or putting it anywhere near their mouth. 

2. Tick Check

No matter what tick prevention you choose to use, none of them offer 100% protection. It’s important to do routine “tick check’s” on your dog and yourself. To do a tick check, scan your dog’s fur with your eyes and run your hands over their body. For dogs with dark or black fur, ticks are well camouflaged and can be difficult to spot. As you feel for ticks, massaging below your dog’s fur and onto their skin is a great way to find bumps and lumps that could be latched ticks. While a tick check should cover your dog’s entire body, this diagram from the CDC shows sneaky spots that ticks may be hiding on your dog.


If you find ticks on your dog after a walk, there are likely ticks on you. If you suspect that there are ticks on your clothing, a quick 40min tumble in the dryer on high heat will kill any ticks that are lurking on your clothing. Use the same massage method to check your head for ticks and ask a friend, spouse or sibling to take a look and see if they can spot any ticks on your body in hard to reach and hard to see places like your neck, back and shoulders. 

3. Tick Removal and Disposal

When you find a tick on your dog or yourself, it’s important to remove it and dispose of it properly. Using a set of tweezers, gently pull upward on the tick to remove it from the skin. Do your best not to twist or jerk when removing a tick in order to prevent separating its body from its head and leaving the head in your or your pet’s skin. Check out this diagram for a visual of proper tick removal technique.




Once you’ve removed a tick, don’t just toss it back in the woods! Flush it down the toilet, place it in a jar of alcohol or crush it under your foot or with a pair of rocks. Avoid crushing the tick in your fingers and don’t touch the tick once you’ve removed and killed it.

If you are concerned about your pet or yourself showing signs of a tickborn illness, store the tick in a sealed plastic bag and bring it to your vet or doctor. The most common signs of tickborn illness are: 

In humans:

  • Fever/chills
  • Aches and pains
  • Rash

In dogs:

  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Stiffness
  • Swollen joints 


While all of this tick talk may make you want to hide inside, don’t stress. Being aware and knowledgeable about tick prevention and removal is the best way to keep your pets and your family safe from tickborn diseases while enjoying everything that mother nature has to offer! 

​See Spot run

Increasing a dog's daily exercise routine often helps to decrease their desire to bark, dig and chew. A tired dog is often a well-behaved dog.

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