Ticks on Dogs

We all know that spring and summer are seasons to be on high alert for ticks. Dogs are particularly susceptible to tick bites and can also carry them into the house. Tick-borne diseases, including Lyme Disease, Canine Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Canine Anaplasmosis and several others affect both humans and dogs.

And although ticks are common throughout the country, people in some states are more at risk than others. For example, Pennsylvania and Virginia are among the 14 states with the highest rate of confirmed Lyme Disease cases in the country. If you live in either of these states, you should be extra vigilant, take preventative measure and check your dog for ticks frequently.

Knowing Which Ticks to Look Out For

There are at least fifteen species of tick in the United States and a few of these are considered harmful to humans and dogs:

  • American Dog Tick is the most common tick in Pennsylvania, found throughout the state. It's also common in Southern states and in coastal areas and is one of the most common ticks in Virginia. Although not a transmitter of Lyme Disease, these ticks can transmit serious, often deadly diseases to humans and dogs.
  • Lonestar Tick is not the state tick of Texas, despite its name. It lives in underbrush in wooded areas and along rivers and creeks, although in Pennsylvania it's been reported near urban areas. It's also found in eastern areas of Virginia, east of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Lonestar ticks can transmit diseases to dogs and humans, including Ehrlichiosis and Tularemia.
  • Blacklegged tick is commonly called the deer tick and can carry Lyme Disease. It's found all over the Northeast and has recently expanded its range. Infestations have been found in several parts of Pennsylvania, north, central and south, and in northern parts of Virginia, including suburban areas.

How to Remove a Tick From a Dog

It’s important to remove the tick promptly and correctly. Use rubbing alcohol on the area and delicately remove the tick with tweezers, making sure you also remove the head. If you’re unsure how to do this properly, have your vet show you. Then you’ll be ready for next time, and there will most likely be a next time.

Can I Prevent Tick-Borne Diseases?

While you can’t wipe ticks off the face of the earth, you can take preventative measures.

  • Check your dog for ticks daily, or more if he spends a lot of time outside
  • Keep yard mown and remove tall weeds
  • To protect yourself, wear long pants and socks when out in woods or fields
  • Your vet can recommend topical or systemic tick-control treatments. Be diligent and make sure to keep treatments up to date.
  • Have your vet test for tick-borne diseases annually, even if your dog shows no symptoms.