When ensuring the health and well-being of our furry companions is a top priority for every responsible dog owner.
When it comes to keeping our dogs safe from the dangerous risks of tick-borne diseases, thorough and regular tick checks are essential.
Ticks might be little but tick bites can pose a significant threat to our dogs’ health, and early detection is key to preventing the transmission of these diseases.
To help you put your best effort into preventing ticks on your dog, let’s talk about the most common places to check your dog for ticks.
By understanding where ticks tend to hide on your dog and how a tick picks its victim, you can take proactive measures to protect them and maintain their overall well-being during prime tick season.
When Is Tick Season?
Tick season has officially kicked off for most pet owners and the thought of it makes my skin crawl.
Knowing that ticks are out there waiting to grab onto me or my dogs at any moment is a scary thought which is why I always try to stay ahead of the game and start our protection against ticks early.
Tick season varies based on where you live.
In Ohio, our peak tick periods range from April to November but that greatly depends on our crazy Ohio weather.
In most cases, peak tick seasons are early summer and fall when the average temperature is above 40 to 64 degrees Fahrenheit consistently.
This is when ticks are most prevalent in many areas. are peak periods when ticks are most prevalent.
Where Do Ticks Live?
Ticks can be found in a variety of environments, depending on their species and life stage.
Dogs often pick ticks up from tall grass and heavily wooden areas when walking or hiking.
Some common places where ticks like to hang out are:
- Tall Grass and Shrubs: Ticks are often found in areas with tall grass and dense vegetation, where they can climb onto passing animals or humans.
- Forests and Wooded Areas: Ticks thrive in wooded areas, particularly in leaf litter, fallen logs, and brush piles. They can crawl onto passing animals or attach themselves to low-lying vegetation, waiting for a suitable host.
- Meadows and Fields: Open fields, meadows, and grassy areas can harbor ticks, especially if there are nearby wooded or brushy habitats.
- Gardens and Backyards: Ticks can be present in residential areas, particularly if there are areas with tall grass, shrubs, or wildlife activity. They can hide in vegetation, waiting for a passing host.
- Wildlife Habitats: Ticks often reside on wild animals such as deer, rodents, birds, and other small mammals. These animals serve as hosts for ticks, which can then drop off and infest other areas.
Remember that ticks can adapt to various environments, so it’s essential to be cautious and perform tick checks on yourself, your pets, and your outdoor gear after spending time in areas where ticks are likely to reside.
Most Common Places To Check For Ticks On Your Dog
According to Dr. Michael Smith, Veterinary Parasitologist, “Ticks are often found in warm and moist areas on a dog’s body, such as the ears, armpits, and groin. It’s important to thoroughly inspect these areas as ticks can easily hide in the fur or attach themselves to the skin. Paying attention to these common hiding spots is essential for effective tick prevention.
While ticks can attach anywhere on a dog they are often found in these specific places on a dog:
- Head and ears
- Neck and collar area
- Armpit and front legs
- Chest and belly
- Back and tail area
- Groin area
- Back legs and paws
Head and Ears
Ticks are often found in areas with thin skin and warm blood flow, making the head and ears prime hiding spots.
Inspect your dog’s head, paying close attention to the ears, earflaps, and the area where the ears meet the skull.
Run your fingers gently through your dog’s coat and feel for any small bumps or unusual textures.
Neck and Collar
Ticks tend to migrate towards the neck and collar area, as they are attracted to the warmth and moisture found there.
Part the fur around your dog’s neck and carefully examine the skin.
Don’t forget to check underneath the collar, as ticks can easily latch onto the fabric and crawl onto your dog’s skin.
Armpit and Front Legs
Ticks may seek shelter in areas with less fur and increased mobility, such as underarms and front legs.
Lift each front leg and thoroughly check the armpits, as well as the areas between the toes.
Run your hands along the legs, feeling for any abnormal bumps or swollen areas that could indicate a tick’s presence.
Chest and Belly
Ticks can hide in the chest and underside of a dog, taking advantage of the soft and less hairy areas.
Gently lift your dog’s front legs and examine the chest area.
Then, proceed to check the belly, looking for any ticks attached to the skin.
Be thorough in your search, as ticks can be difficult to spot against the skin’s color.
Back and Tail Area
The back and tail region are common hiding places for ticks, as they provide an ample supply of warmth and blood flow.
Run your hands along your dog’s back, feeling for any unusual bumps or bumps.
Lift your dog’s tail and examine the base of the tail, paying attention to any swollen or irritated areas, which may indicate a tick bite.
Ticks can be found in the groin and genital area, attracted to the warmth and moisture present in these regions.
Carefully part the fur and examine this area, checking for any ticks attached to the skin.
Take extra caution while inspecting sensitive areas, and if necessary, seek the assistance of a veterinarian.
Back Legs and Paws
Ticks may hide in the hind legs and paws, especially in the spaces between the toes.
Lift each hind leg and inspect the inner thigh and paw pads for any signs of ticks.
Run your fingers through the fur and feel for any irregularities.
Additionally, examine the spaces between the toes, as ticks can easily lodge themselves there.
Ticks often find their way between your dog’s toes, where they can go unnoticed.
Separate each toe and carefully examine the skin and webbing between them.
Ticks can be small and easily mistaken for dirt, so be thorough in your search to ensure you don’t overlook any potential hitchhikers
Upfront and Center
Not all ticks are going to seek out a great hiding place.
A hungry tick is going to just dig in and start sucking.
While ticks tend to prefer certain areas, they can also hide in less common spots on your dog’s body.
Don’t forget to check areas like your dog’s eyelids, between the lips and gums, inside the nose, and even along the eyelashes.
Thoroughness is key to ensuring you detect any ticks on your pet.
What Does a Tick Feel Like On a Dog?
Before I had Newfies, I always wondered how people found ticks on them.
With their double-coat, it seemed like it would be like finding a needle in a haystack.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Finding adult ticks on a Newfie isn’t hard at all, especially when you have your hands on your dog several times a day and pay attention to them.
They definitely can go unseen for a bit but most people will eventually find them, even more so if they know what areas to pay special attention to.
What a tick feels like on a Newf will depend on the size and type of tick but most will feel like a small bump or a skin tag.
The more engorged that a tick is, the bigger the bump will feel.
Ticks can range in size from a poppy seed to a dime depending on how long they’ve been feeding.
A tick should not be confused with a dog’s nipple but it can definitely feel similar.
How Do You Know It’s a Tick?
The best way to know if a tick is attached to your dog is to look closely at the body and see if you see little legs.
If the tick is attached, you won’t see the head and the body will vary in color the longer that it is attached.
The normal color is usually brown, black or red and the longer it has been feeding it will turn to grey.
How to Check Your Dog For Ticks
Dr. Emily Thompson, Tick-Borne Disease Specialist states that “Ticks can be difficult to detect, especially in areas with dense fur. It’s important to run your fingers through your dog’s fur and feel for any bumps or swollen areas.”
Best practices are to check your dog immediately when you come home from a walk or when they come in from outside because most ticks won’t attach to a dog for several hours.
I like to check my dog for loose ticks by running a lint roller over the top of their coat, legs, paws and chest.
You can also use packing tape or even a tick glove.
When we get inside, I like to use a dog comb or a flea comb for a more complete check.
What To Do If You Find a Tick On Your Dog
If you’re concerned about your dog becoming sick from the tick, mark the area where the tick was removed and watch the bite area for any signs of redness, swelling, loss of appetite, infection and/or joint pain.
Remember, the quicker that you find and remove the tick’s body from your dog, the less chance the tick has of transmitting a potentially dangerous disease such as Lyme Disease.
In conclusion, regularly checking your dog for ticks is a vital part of being a responsible dog owner.
By being diligent and thorough in your inspections, you can help protect your canine companion from the risks associated with common tick-borne diseases.
Remember to pay attention to common hiding spots such as the head, ears, neck, underarms, belly, and paws.
Additionally, consider less common areas where ticks may hide, such as the tail base and anal region.
If you discover a tick, remove it promptly and consult with your veterinarian if you have any concerns. By implementing regular tick checks as part of your pet care routine, you are taking proactive measures to safeguard your dog’s health and well-being.
With your vigilance and the right tick preventatives, you can enjoy many tick-free adventures together with your dog!