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Brown dog tick: Identification, Removal, Prevention

By Justine Seraphin Country Manager

Updated on the

We all know how dangerous ticks can be for dogs. But many pet owners in the UK don’t yet know about the brown dog tick - a species which is steadily increasing in number.

Rhipicephalus sanguineus, commonly known as the brown dog tick, is the most widespread tick species in the world. 

It is the only tick species that can complete its entire life cycle indoors - meaning they are particularly apt to living in our homes and on our pets. Though still rare in the UK, they are steadily increasing in number. Read on to find out everything you need to know about protecting your dog from the brown dog tick.

Where is the brown dog tick found?

The brown dog tick thrives in dry and hot environments. This is why in the past, they were more common in desert or tropical climates such as Mexico or Florida, for example. However, with climate change increasing overall temperatures throughout Europe, brown dog ticks have increased in number. They remain rare in the UK, but ticks have been found on dogs travelling from other countries.

Dogs are the brown dog tick’s host of choice. However, they can attach onto other domestic animals, wildlife, or even humans. They will be found primarily in places where the dog population is high, such as kennels. However, they can also be found in cracks and crevices of the home, and, like many other ticks, in vegetation.

What do ticks look like on dogs?

The adult brown dog tick is reddish-brown in colour, has eight legs, and an elongated body. They grow in size as they feed on their host’s blood, with females sometimes reaching half an inch or so.

The brown dog tick’s preferred places to attach are a dog’s head, ears, back, between their toes, or on their axilla (the area of skin which connects the legs to the body). You should be checking these areas frequently, particularly if you take long walks in nature during the summer.

Braune Hundezecke
The Brown Dog Tick ©7th Son Studio - Shutterstock

Do brown dog ticks carry diseases?

Like all ticks, brown dog ticks can carry diseases. The main two diseases which can easily be passed on to your dog are Canine Ehrlichiosis and Babesiosis.

Brown dog tick symptoms

If you think your dog may have been bitten by a brown dog tick, look out for the following symptoms: Lameness, depression, weight loss, anorexia, fever, and anemia. If you have any doubts, take your dog to see a vet as soon as possible.

Brown dog tick removal

If you’ve spotted a brown dog tick on your dog, you should remove it as soon as possible. Use a good tick removal tool (you can usually find these in pet stores or vet clinics). Place the tick remover under the tick, then turn it clockwise until the tick detaches. This method will ensure the head is removed as well. 

Once you’ve removed the tick, it’s essential to dispose of it correctly so it doesn’t end up on your dog again. You can flush the tick down the toilet for example, but if you prefer throwing the tick away in the bin, make sure you seal it in a plastic bag or in tape first. Don’t try crushing the tick with your fingers.

If you found a tick on your dog, it’s probably a good idea to clean your dog’s bed and blankets as well. Wash these on a hot cycle - this is the only way any larva, nymph, or adult brown dog ticks will be exterminated.

Brown dog tick prevention

The best way to keep your dog safe from brown dog ticks is prevention! Firstly, make sure you use an effective anti-tick product on your dog all throughout the summer months in particular. Anti-tick products can come in different forms - discuss these options with your vet to see which one would work best for your pet.

Another good way of preventing ticks from attaching to your dog is by applying anti-tick treatments in any cracks and crevices of your home as well as on the vegetation in your garden. Ideally, you should also be keeping the grass in your garden short so as to prevent ticks from being able to use it as latching-on points.

Check your dog regularly, running your fingers on their skin, and particular in the areas in which ticks like to attach. You should do this especially after you’ve been on a long nature walk.

Check out all our tick prevention tips!

These pesky critters can easily ruin a summer holiday, so make sure you keep an eye open for them! 

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Frequently asked questions

Can the brown dog tick cause diseases in humans?

Does the brown dog tick carry Lyme disease?

Can brown dog ticks kill dogs?

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  • TickRepellent
    A new study suggests the brown dog tick has developed a resistance to permethrin. I did not think permethrin would be so widely used that ticks would develop resistance. This is bad news for pet owners and the general public. Permetherin is a favorite tick repelling spray used by hikers and campers to treat their gear. Also, if the Brown dog tick can build resistance, other ticks can. If the Eastern blacklegged tick becomes resistant, we are in trouble. The brown dog tick is dangerous enough; they are a problem for humans as well However, the Eastern blacklegged tick is the worst disease vector; let's hope their resistance stays not existent.
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