Removing and Treating Your Dog's Ticks

Dog Tick Removal

Photo by Michael Oxendine

Ticks are one of the common, yet tricky issues that pet parents have to protect our beloved dogs from in Australia. The tiny pests cause discomfort and can also transmit serious diseases to your pet, and even to us humans. Fortunately, with some knowledge and precautions, you can easily prevent and treat ticks on your dog to help them continue living at their prime.

Types of ticks on dogs

There are several types of ticks that can bite your dog in Australia, including the Brown Dog Tick, the Paralysis Tick, and the Bush Tick. While they can all cause illness, the Paralysis Tick can be fatal, so it’s important that you know how to identify them.

The Brown Dog Tick

The Brown Dog Tick is a reddish-brown tick that can survive indoors and outdoors, and usually attaches itself behind the ears or between the toes of your dog.

The Paralysis Tick

The Paralysis Tick, also known as the Ixodes Holocyclus, is a dangerous tick that can cause paralysis, breathing problems, and even death to your dog. It's mostly found in the eastern coastal regions of Australia, which means that over 50% of the Australian population are potentially exposed to this tick. It can be identified by its grey body and legs close to the head, as well as front and back legs that are a much darker colour than their middle legs.

The Bush Tick

The Bush Tick, also called the Scrub Tick, is a grey or blue-grey tick that infests dogs in the wet and bushy areas of Australia, and usually affects their ears and face.

Common spots you may find ticks

Ticks can attach themselves to your dog's body in various places, but some common spots include the head, neck, ears, armpits, groin, and between the toes. If you have a long-haired dog, you may need to carefully search through their fur for any signs of ticks. Make sure you check your dog for ticks regularly, especially after they’ve been outdoors or in contact with other animals. A good time to do a check is while you {pet your dog} and they’re feeling relaxed. If you live in or are travelling to a tick area, you should perform a thorough tick search on your dog every day.


Spotting ticks on your dog

Ticks can be small and hard to detect on your dog's skin. However, there are some signs that may indicate their presence, such as redness, swelling, itchiness, and hair loss around the tick bite area. You may also notice some changes in your dog's behaviour, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, and fever. If you suspect your dog has ticks, it's important that you act quickly to prevent further spreading of the infestation.


What to do if you find a tick

If you find a tick on your dog's body, don't panic. First, make sure you have the right tools - a specially designed tick remover tool is the best. These can be purchased from pet stores, vet clinics, chemists, online and some supermarkets. Regular tweezers are not generally recommended for tick removal as they are likely to crush the tick and may leave the tick’s head and mouthparts still imbedded in your dog’s skin. If you have to use tweezers, a pair with fine points is preferable. Put on gloves and have rubbing alcohol or antiseptic at the ready. Follow the instructions on your tick removal tool. Generally, the steps are: 1. Position the hook of the tool against your pet's skin, alongside the tick. 2. Carefully slide the tool underneath the tick, trapping the tick in the wedge of the hook. 3. Gently pull the tool away from the skin while twisting, to remove the tick. Once you’ve removed the tick, clean the bite area with rubbing alcohol and keep an eye on your dog for any symptoms, such as a fever, loss of appetite, lethargy and lameness (not being able to properly use one or more limbs). You can also keep the tick in a jar or sealed bag for further identification in case of illness. It’s very important to thoroughly inspect the area after tick removal to ensure the head and mouthparts are removed. If not, take your dog to a vet to remove what’s left in their skin.



remove ticks froom dogs


How to prevent ticks

Prevention is always better than cure, and the following measures can help keep your dog tick-free: - Regularly grooming your dog with a flea and tick shampoo - Using tick collars or sprays - Giving your dog tick prevention medication, such as a spot on or oral chew - Keeping your lawn and garden trimmed and clean - Avoiding tick-infested areas, especially during tick season (September to April, when the weather is warmer) - Checking your dog's body for ticks after every outdoor activity


When to seek professional help

In some cases, tick infestations can be severe and require professional help. If your dog shows signs of paralysis, seizures, or difficulty breathing, seek immediate veterinary care. Some tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme disease and Babesiosis, may take weeks or months to show symptoms. Make sure you continue to monitor your dog’s health, and if you notice anything unusual after a tick bite, contact your vet for a check-up. Ticks can be a nuisance for your dog but knowing how to prevent and treat them can help keep them at bay. A tick-free dog is a happy dog! For more tips and advice on how to keep your dog happy and healthy, check out our pet care blog.

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