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How to Check for Ticks on Dogs

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Ticks on Dogs Can Be Detrimental to Their Health

It’s no secret that nature and the outdoors play a huge part in your dog’s life, so making sure critters and insects don’t harm your furry loved one is important. One of the major pests to keep an eye out for during the spring season are ticks. Tick-borne illnesses can be detrimental to your pet’s health, so learning how to check for ticks on dogs and how to remove a tick from a dog are extremely important. To help pet parents deal with ticks on dogs, we’ve compiled some helpful tips from our pet experts.

Why Should You Check Your Dog for Ticks?

If you and your pet live near the woods, thick brushy areas or fields with tall grass, there’s a high chance that your furry friend could catch a tick while roaming the outdoors. Laura Simis, who works for Getem Services, a leading pest control company in Norfolk, VA, explains the importance behind checking for ticks and tick bites on dogs: “Dogs can easily contract Lyme disease from a tick bite at everyday locations such as the dog park, on a hiking trail, or even just from chasing after a flying disc in your yard.”

According to Simis, “It only takes 48 hours of attachment for an infected tick to transmit the disease, which is one reason it’s crucial to check for ticks regularly and be aware of the warning signs.” Dr. Nancy Troyano, board certified entomologist for the family of pest control brands, Western Exterminator, Presto-X, and Ehrlich Pest Control, notes some warning signs to look for that may indicate your dog has a tick:

  • Joint pain, limping and lameness
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Decreased appetite
  • Fever
  • Lethargy

Dr. Troyano highlights the importance of speaking with your veterinarian if your pup displays any of these symptoms, as tick-borne diseases can be fatal if untreated.

How To Check Your Dog for Ticks

  1. Use a tick comb. Ticks on dogs can be tricky to find, especially if your pup has a long, thick coat of fur. Simis suggests using a tick comb to carefully check your dog after he’s been playing outdoors. The Safari Double Row Flea Comb for Dogs allows you to closely examine the condition of your dog’s coat and helps you remove pests without irritating flea- and tick-bitten skin.
  2. Look in the right places. Amy Lawhorne, VP of Mosquito Squad, urges pet parents to especially focus on their pup’s lower back and tail area when running a fine-toothed comb through their dog’s fur. You can also “Check the skin for any small bumps by running your hands through your pet’s coat, paying extra attention behind the ears and in any dark, hidden areas,” she says. Simis adds that ticks are drawn to warm and moist places, so pet parents should “Pay special attention to areas where fur might get matted and sweaty, such as beneath a collar or harness.”
  3. Make sure they’re ticks. Suesan Watson, Certified Master Groomer, explains how pet parents can tell ticks from other insects: “Ticks don’t move when you touch them, because they attach to the dog’s skin by burying their heads where they stay feeding,” she says. Fleas, on the other hand, are smaller and will run very fast when disturbed.
  4. Check with affection. The best way to check for ticks and tick bites on dogs is to keep the activity fun and pleasant for your pooch, says Russell Hartstein, Russell Hartstein, Certified Dog/Cat Behaviorist and Trainer and CEO (Canine Executive Officer) of Fun Paw Care in Los Angeles. “Basic affection, petting, husbandry and gentle massaging while checking for ticks is a therapeutic and mutually enriching activity that will soothe your pup and allow you to be fully present with your dog.” Checking your dog for ticks doesn’t have to be a mundane and nagging task—so next time you do a check-up on your pooch, take the time to bond with your loved one and get some extra cuddles in!

How to Remove a Tick From a Dog

Watson reminds pet parents not to panic if they find a tick on their pooch. “Seeing one tick doesn’t mean you have a problem,” she explains. It is, however, important to follow the steps for removing a tick from a dog. Dr. Sarah Wooten, DVM, CVJ, urges pet parents to remove ticks as soon as possible by grabbing them close to the head and gently pulling to remove them. Dr. Wooten notes that “The biggest misconception is that you need to twist and pull—don’t do that, or you risk breaking the mouthpiece off, which will remain embedded in your pet, putting him at risk for tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease.”

Both Watson and Dr. Wooten note that the best way to keep your dog safe from ticks is to apply tick prevention medication to your dog, especially during tick season. Topical treatments such as the K9 Advantix II Flea & Tick Treatment are effective in repelling fleas, ticks and other insects. If you take the time to protect your pooch before he contracts a tick, you will have less work to do afterward.


Having recently moved from rainy Oregon to the sunshine state, Anastasiya Chevtchenko spends her time catching rays by the beach, playing soccer with the locals, and embracing pet heaven – Chewy. A recent Penn graduate, Anastasiya works in Marketing where she hopes to bring in her expertise in international relations to expand the business. When she’s not facetiming her international friends or reading the news in five languages, Anastasiya spends her time working on PR projects, social media brand posts, and writing for Chewy’s Pet Central blog.