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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 ticks into the house. Tick-borne diseases—such as Lyme disease, canine ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and canine anaplasmosis—can affect both humans and dogs.

And although ticks are common throughout the country, people in some states are more at risk than others, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). If you live in a state where Lyme disease cases are high or on the rise, you should be extra vigilant, take preventative measures, and check your dog and yourself for ticks frequently.

Knowing Which Ticks to Look Out For

There are at least fifteen species of tick in the United States. 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 coastal areas and is one of the most common ticks in Virginia. Although not a transmitter of Lyme disease, these ticks can transmit other serious, often deadly diseases to humans and dogs.
  • Lone Star Tick lives in the 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. Lone star ticks can transmit diseases, including ehrlichiosis and tularemia, to dogs and humans.
  • Black-legged 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 northern parts of Virginia, including suburban areas.
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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 tick removal 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 against ticks.

  • Check your dog for ticks daily, or more if they spend 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.

This article is intended solely as general guidance, and does not constitute health or other professional advice. Individual situations and applicable laws vary by jurisdiction, and you are encouraged to obtain appropriate advice from qualified professionals in the applicable jurisdictions. We make no representations or warranties concerning any course of action taken by any person following or otherwise using the information offered or provided in this article, including any such information associated with and provided in connection with third-party products, and we will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary or other damages that may result, including but not limited to economic loss, injury, illness or death.

Related article: Lyme Disease in Dogs: Symptoms, Tests, Treatment, and Prevention
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