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How to spot and remove ticks from your dog

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Ticks can be a real problem for you and your dog. So let’s look at the best ways to treat ticks on dogs.

By Ashley Murphy

Ticks are parasites that live on the outside of your dog’s body. Unfortunately, they’re fairly common, and not particularly pleasant. They’re not very nice to look at. They’re notoriously difficult to remove, and after attaching themselves to your dog they can consume enough blood to cause anaemia. Due to the toxins they produce, female ticks can also cause paralysis. But the most common problem is Lyme disease. This causes arthritis and painful swelling. And unless it receives quick and effective treatment,  it can also lead to lameness and other potentially fatal health risks. Luckily, we have lots of options when it comes to tick treatments for dogs.

How to treat ticks on dogs

The first thing we need to do is find them. Luckily, they’re large enough to see with the naked eye. Depending on age, they vary in size between 1mm-1cm and have white, egg-shaped bodies. It’s also good practice to run your hand over your dog whenever you get back from a walk. If you notice any lumps and bumps then take a closer look. Pay particular attention to your dogs head, neck, ears, and feet; these are the areas that ticks really like to bury into. And if you have a long-haired dog, use a hair-dryer on a cool setting to search through your dogs' coat for any lurking ticks.

Now it's time to remove them. This can be awkward, but be careful not to squeeze the tick too tightly. This can make a tick expel blood back into your dog, and increases any risks of infection. You also need to remove all of the tick, making sure you don’t leave its head stuck in your dog. Twisting rather than pulling is the safest and most effective method; it’s also better to use tweezers as many experts advise against pulling them out with your hands, You can also purchase tick-removal devices to make it a bit easier. Check out this video from the SPCA to see how the professionals do it:

Over the counter tick treatment for dogs

There are various types of medication available. You can get them from your local vet, online, or over the counter. They come in pill-form, creams, sprays,  and even shampoos. Vetsend is a great place to browse through the various options. But always be careful about which medications you use. A lot of medications are age-specific, and some shouldn’t be used on pregnant or lactating dogs. Remember to always read the label and consult an expert if you need any additional information.

The natural tick treatment for dogs

If you’d rather not use sprays or powders, then there are some natural alternatives. Introduce some garlic into your dog’ s diet. Don’t worry, it's perfectly healthy as long as you stick to the right amounts, and it actually helps repel ticks when excreted through your dog's skin. 

You can also use apple cider vinegar. Add into your dog's diet with ½ teaspoon per 25lbs of body weight. The vinegar raises the acidity levels in your dog's blood, making it less appealing to ticks. 

The Farmers Almanac also recommends using cedar oil spray, eucalyptus oil, and neem oil. They’ve also got tips on how to make your own sprays and oils from 100% natural ingredients.

Treating the environment is another way of preventing ticks on dogs

One of the most effective tick treatments is prevention, so keep your garden and outside areas trimmed back, especially between March and June and then August and  November (these are peak tick seasons). Contrary to a popular belief, ticks don't’ jump onto their hosts like fleas. They jump onto animals who brush through thick woodland or long grass.  So cut back any trees or bushes. Fewer places for ticks to live and breed means that fewer will find their way onto your dog. If you live in a rural area, it's advised that you create at least a 3-foot buffer between your garden and any wild country.

It's pretty obvious that ticks can be a real pain, but as we can see there are lots of things you can do to treat and prevent them. Depending on your dog, some tick treatments will work better than others.  Try a combination of treatment and prevention for the best results. A safe environment and the right diet will limit the chances of your dog getting ticks. But if they do, there are plenty of medications and natural remedies to choose from.