Pet Health
ticks on dogs removal care

Ticks on Dogs: What Are These Things?

Written by Ryan Gliozzo


Discover how to prevent and treat ticks on dogs. Learn about symptoms, removal techniques, and protective measures for your furry friend's well-being.
a dog getting a tick removed by a vet

Ticks on dogs: what is a dog tick?

Ticks are tiny parasites that suck the blood out of their victims, who subsequently swell. You can spot these tiny troublemakers as they are "black, eight-legged creatures." 

Although they might look similar to common bugs, a closer look will certainly identify these little nuisances by said leg count and their oval-shaped, black-coloured bodies. 

To make life easier for your dog, you must help to eliminate tick infestations if they fall victim to this tiny menace.

Got worms? If your dog is suffering from worms, then check out our other post here: worms in dogs.

Here's everything you need to know about ticks:

Unlike fleas, the common tick is a tiny parasite that becomes larger when they consume blood. They do not jump or fly but rather climb on the dog from another surface and become embedded. 

This can make ticks difficult to find, especially inside thick and fluffy fur.

They are found throughout the year, often in wooded areas, grasslands and such, but note that they are comparatively less of a nuisance in winter.

The types of ticks and how to identify them

tick diagram

We can broadly categorise ticks into two types: hard ticks and soft ticks. Both these types of tick species have eight legs, unlike other common types of bugs. 

However, smaller ticks might appear to have six legs too. In short, they look like tiny black bugs on a dog’s body and are found near the ear and neck area and on the folds and creases of their skin.

Hard ticks

They usually have a small head that is somewhat separated from their body. In addition, they have a hard outer shell, which is present as a black plate on the back of the tick.

Soft ticks

These kinds of ticks are relatively fatter and more rounded than hard ticks. But, most importantly, they do not have any hard plates on their backs. For more information on soft and hard ticks, click here.

Symptoms of ticks

tick with dog in background

These are some of the most common symptoms your dog may encounter when having ticks or a tick bite on its body.

  • Inflamed Skin
    Ticks suck on the skin of the dogs, which leads to swelling and inflammation. It is usually localised and occurs where the tick is biting into the skin.

  • Scratching and Pawing
    Ticks are one of the most common and recurring reasons why your dog might be seen frequently pawing and scratching at particular spots. To prevent your dog from hurting themselves, make sure to check it out and treat it immediately.

  • Scabs and Scars
    Persistent scabs may form if a tick is embedded in the skin of your dog for a long time. It may also lead to scarring. 

Moreover, these ticks are so uncomfortable that your pet will continue scratching itself to get relief from the discomfort thus leading to more scars and scabs. If you notice any of this, it's always best to contact your vet for advice.

Are ticks a risk to my dog's health?

a dog having a treatment applied

Ticks are mostly irritating, but in some cases, they can lead to severe health problems such as tick paralysis and tick disease. The main risk of ticks is the dreaded Lyme disease in dogs.

  • Tick Paralysis
    Tick paralysis occurs if the tick leaks unhealthy toxins into the body of your dog. It usually weakens their functions and causes lethargy and paralysis, mainly on the legs of the dog. However, if the tick(s) are removed from the body, your dog can soon return to its normal (or not-so-normal!) self.

  • Tick Disease
    Tick disease leads to weakness, fatigue, breathlessness, painful joints, weight loss, and feverish tendencies. However, this occurs after ticks have actively attacked your dogs. Therefore, immediate removal might be necessary and your dog would need to be treated under proper guidance.

  • Lyme Disease
    From humans to cats and dogs, Lyme disease can occur in anyone. Lyme disease is a type of bacterial infection caused by ticks. It leads to fatigue, depression, and loss of appetite. Lyme disease can also cause your dog to have swollen joints and lead to frequent bouts of fever.

  • What is the Treatment for Lyme Disease?
    Lyme disease in dogs must be treated by professionals. If you notice symptoms of it in your pet, you must immediately check in with your vet. Usually, antibiotics help cure Lyme disease, especially if it is caught in an early stage. If it is too severe, there might be other procedures involved. Nevertheless, it’s best to consult your vet regarding this.

Can humans be bitten by ticks?

a dog receiving a treatment

Yes, ticks can in fact get attached to humans too. They cause swelling, irritation, and inflammation in the areas they bite into. 

Although the subsequent diseases caused in humans might not be the same as in dogs or other animals, many similar diseases are often transferred. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to get checked by a doctor if a human or a pet experiences symptoms in order to prevent serious harm.

How to prevent ticks on dogs?

Well, let’s face it, ticks are very common and it’s likely that your pet will have them at least once. However, there are some preventive measures to reduce contact with ticks. These include keeping your dog away from places typically inhabited by ticks. 

You can also find repellent creams. This type of tick product helps to keep ticks away or kill them off quicker. Medications are also available that do the work of tick prevention. Moreover, always keep the fur of your dog clean and brush it regularly. For more information on tick treatments, see here.

How to remove ticks on dogs?

dog scratching itself

Ticks typically leave your pet alone once they have had their fill. However, it is best not to delay the treatment. You must refrain from just pulling ticks from your dog because it can be painful for them, especially if there are embedded ticks on dogs. 

Instead, use a set of clean and sanitised tweezers to pluck the tick gently. It should break out fully, head and all, because otherwise, remnants of it might remain in the dog’s fur.

The dangers of incorrectly removing a tick

If the body breaks apart before you can cleanly remove it, the dangerous toxins from the body might be left in the skin and fur of your dog. It is likely for the ticks to be embedded into the skin of your furry friend. It is advisable to not dig around, as it might hurt your dog and even lead to infection.

If the tick’s head remains on your dog, it might not cause any severe health problems but can still cause skin irritation and again, lead to infection.

Tick removal tool

tick with dog in the background

To properly remove the ticks that are bothering your dog and ensure that you do not hurt them in the process, having the right tools is necessary. Here are some of the most commonly used tools that are used for ticks on dogs removal.

  • Tweezers

  • Tick removal twisters

  • Tick removal combs

How long do ticks survive?

Ticks feed on the dogs they have attached themselves to unless they are so full that they fall off. However, they can also remain, mate, and keep on the infestation for months, if not years. 

The longest time that a tick has survived has been found to be three years. However, it depends on how well they can feed on their host. Usually, they fall off after they have had their fill.


In conclusion, do not let the 'clock tick' while there are ticks on your dog! Get it checked immediately and take the proper steps to keep your dog happy and healthy.

As a quick tip, check your dog's fur often and look for ticks after walks. It is especially important to check your dog if they have any irritated skin. This is the most critical yet simple way to prevent a disease from ticks infecting your 'lil bud'.

You might also want to consider getting pet insurance so that you can get the best possible treatments for your dog every time there is trouble. 

With Waggel, you can also talk to an online video vet for free at any point as part of our insurance plan if you’re feeling unsure of your dog's issue. We have Lifetime insurance plans that offer the perfect amount of cover and your choice of Claim Contribution.

Finally, members can join our Facebook community group, which is full of like-minded pet owners who can answer any concerns you may have.

Waggel provides other helpful content and answer to your questions such as those, small, yet ponderous queries like "can dogs get hiccups?" and "How do I train my dog to ignore other dogs?"

Waggel Pet Insurance

Need more help? You're in luck if you're a Waggel Pet Insurance member. Along with our excellent coverage, we offer access to a 24/7 online vet to answer all your sticky questions, especially if you need grooming assistance.

Not a member? Why not get a quote now and cover your furry friend for a range of illnesses, all while enjoying our amazing perks and rewards.

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