Experts are predicting tick populations to rise to an all-time high this year. And ticks don’t discriminate against age, so whether your dog is a puppy, an adult, or a senior dog, be prepared to take action against ticks. Follow these guidelines – from prevention to removal – to avoid tick-borne diseases in your dog this summer.

How do I help prevent my dog from getting ticks?

  • When possible, stay away from tick-infested areas, including wooded areas, tall brush, and high grasses. These areas are home turf for ticks, especially in warmer climates.
  • Consult your veterinarian for tick preventative products, including topical treatments and tick collars, as well as tick testing.
  • Fortunately, ticks are visible to the naked eye, so conduct a visual tick check each time after being outside with your dog. Pay special attention to your dog’s ears and toes – these are common areas where fleas and ticks tend to dwell.

How do I remove a tick from my dog?

After spotting a tick on your dog, remove it immediately. Ticks usually don’t transmit disease for 24 to 48 hours after attachment, so if you check for ticks as soon as you come inside, a quick removal should keep your dog safe from disease.

The Center for Disease Control recommends these steps to safely remove a tick:

  1. Clean the area with rubbing alcohol.
  2. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
  3. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the tick’s mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. Avoid any contact with the tick’s blood, which can transmit infection to your dog or you.
  4. If the tick’s mouth-parts do break off in your dog’s skin, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you aren’t able to successfully remove them, leave it be and let the skin heal.
  5. After removing the tick, clean the bite area and your hands thoroughly with rubbing alcohol.
  6. Give a call to your veterinarian for good measure. He or she may want to examine your dog , especially if certain tick-borne illnesses are rampant in your area.

What are symptoms of tick-borne illnesses in dogs?

Even if you quickly spotted and removed a tick from your dog, it’s important to keep an eye on their health and behavior to monitor for any symptoms of tick-borne illnesses. There are several tick-transmitted diseases that are common in dogs, beyond just Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. If your dog has any of the following symptoms, bring him to the veterinarian immediately for an examination:

  • Lameness
  • Swollen or “hot” joints
  • Fever
  • Fatigue or lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Stiff joints
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Runny eyes and nose
  • Nosebleeds
  • Vomiting
  • Vision problems
  • Pale gums
  • Bloody diarrhea

Looking for more answers about ticks? Consult your veterinarian – they’ll have the best insight into the tick trends in your area.

BONUS READ: If you're hitting the road this summer, be sure you and your dog are prepared before you leave for vacation.