How to Check Your Dog for Ticks and Remove Them Safely

As a responsible pet owner, it is important to keep your dog happy, healthy, and free of disease. Insects and parasites, such as ticks, can make this job difficult as they are tough to spot and can carry and transmit diseases that may not affect pets until weeks, months, or even years later.

What are ticks?

Ticks belong to the arachnid family of insects and are considered external parasites, meaning they sustain themselves by sucking blood of other animals, including mammals, birds, and reptiles. As carriers of numerous diseases, a single bite from a tick can infect the host with a number of diseases, including Lyme disease.

Where do ticks live?

Ticks are found in all parts of the world, especially in tropical and humid climates. Typically, ticks are found in brush, hardwood forests, near water, or in locations that support a large population of wildlife, such as deer.

What types of ticks are native to Canada?

Despite the non-tropical climate of Canada, approximately 40 tick species can be found across the country. These include Deer ticks, Western Black-Legged ticks, Ixodes angustus ticks, Lone Star ticks, American Dog ticks, Brown Dog ticks, and Rocky Mountain Wood ticks. Each tick type is capable of spreading disease.

What are the signs and symptoms of tick-borne illnesses?

Many illnesses, such as Lyme disease, Ehrlichia, or Rocky Mountain Fever, manifest slowly and result in arthritis and joint stiffness, fatigue, loss of appetite, fever, neurological problems, and even death.

How do I check my dog for ticks?

Anytime your dog has been in a wooded area it is important to check for ticks. To do so, run your hands all over your dog’s body and check for unusual bumps. Run your hands counter to the direction of fur growth to get a close look at your dog’s skin to check for smaller ticks that may be difficult to feel. If your pet has especially thick fur, a tick brush can help you identify the insects. Be sure to look on all areas of your pet, including ears, between toes, and in armpits.

How do I remove a tick from my dog?

If a tick is found on your pet, it is important to remove the insect right away. With a pair of fine tipped tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the head as possible. Pull the tick away from the skin with steady force. This procedure may take a few minutes, so having a second person help by holding your dog still is recommended. Do not try to remove the tick by twisting or shaking the tweezers. After the tick releases, dispose of the tick by flushing it down the toilet. If tick removal is especially difficult, see a veterinarian. Never try to remove a tick by applying a flame or chemical.

Tick Twister

You can also remove the tick from your dog using a Tick Twister. The Tick Twister is a safe and easier way to remove a tick from your pet.

Tick Twister

tick twister

How can I prevent ticks?

Fortunately, ticks can be prevented with a low-cost, monthly preventative. Common options include a monthly oral tablet, a tick collar, or a topical application. The oral tablets are convenient and are often paired with additional preventatives, such as heartworm and flea. The medication infiltrates the dog’s bloodstream and kills any tick that attempts to suck blood. Topical applications and tick collars circulate insecticide throughout the dog’s skin, and can kill ticks on contact. A veterinarian can help you decide which option is best for your pet.

Further information on Lyme disease & ticks in Ontario.