6 Symptoms of Ticks on Dogs

Is your dog at risk of having ticks? Would you be able to tell if they did? Do you know how to recognize ticks on your dog? If your dog spends a lot of time outdoors, it’s important to learn how to tell whether they have ticks.

In the article below, you’ll find a list of some of the most common symptoms of ticks on dogs. You can use this information to determine when your dog may be dealing with ticks. From there, you can remove the tick and get in touch with your vet, if necessary, too.

symptoms of ticks on dogs

1. Itching

Itching is one of the most common and earliest signs of ticks in dogs. If your dog seems to be scratching one area of their body more than others, and especially if they have recently been outside a lot, they may have a tick that is buried there and biting.

Try to prevent your dog from scratching the tick until you can remove it. If they scratch too hard, they may break the head off the tick and cause it to remain in the skin, which can lead to infection and create more risk of disease, too.

2. Swelling

In some cases, dogs may experience swelling at or near the site of a tick bite. If your dog has unexplained swelling somewhere on their body, there’s a chance a tick could be the culprit. Closely examine the affected part of their body to see if you can spot any ticks buried there.

Dogs may also have swelling as a result of insect bites and stings, snake bites, and other factors that may contribute to allergic reactions. If you think your dog’s swelling is from an allergic reaction, take them to the emergency vet, as they may be at risk of anaphylaxis.

3. Chewing and Licking

When dogs have ticks buried up in their skin, they are more prone to chewing and licking the affected area often. If you notice your dog chewing and licking one spot on their body more than any others, this is a good sign there may be a tick buried there.

Check the area and locations around it for any signs of a tick. If you spot a tick, try to prevent your dog from chewing or licking it anymore until you can remove it properly. They may cause the head to break off in the skin otherwise.

4. Guarding

If your dog is feeling uncomfortable or irritated because of the presence of a tick, they may guard that part of their body more than usual. This type of behavior may appear as hiding, but it could also present as aggression toward you or other members of your family.

Try looking at your dog’s body carefully for signs of ticks. If your dog is very guarded or aggressive about one part of their body, this may be the best place to look—but do not push it if you can’t check without getting bitten. In this case, take your dog to a veterinarian instead.

5. Signs of Pain

The longer a tick stays on your dog’s body, the more likely it is to cause some pain and discomfort. Additionally, any tick that buries itself in a sensitive part of your dog’s body, such as the groin area, may cause noticeable pain early on.

If your dog is showing signs of pain and you’re not sure why, try looking for buried ticks, especially if they have been outside a lot lately. Check carefully through any parts of their body that appear to be more sensitive, as this type of reaction could help you narrow down the location of the tick.

6. Visible Tick

As ticks remain buried up in a dog’s skin for a long time, they swell and grow with the blood they consume. The longer a tick stays buried in one place, the more likely it is to become visible due to its growing size.

If you can see a visible, engorged tick on your dog’s body, you may need to take your pet to the vet to have the tick removed. If you are experienced with removing engorged ticks, however, you can still remove it at home—but do so carefully.

The Heart + Paw Veterinarians Can Help

With the help of the information in this guide, you should be prepared to recognize the signs of ticks before they get too out of hand. If your dog does have a tick bite, try to remove, and save the tick, then take it to the vet to be identified.

In many cases, your dog will not be at risk of any serious results of tick bites. However, if the vet identifies the tick as a type that can carry serious diseases, such as Lyme disease, you’ll need to follow up with proper treatment and care for your dog.

Call or book an appointment online with one of the Heart + Paw locations to talk with your veterinarian if you found a tick on your dog.

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Heart + Paw was founded in 2018 by Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. George Melillo, who currently serves the Mid-Atlantic area. Heart + Paw offers a combination of veterinary care, pet grooming, and dog daycare to help be a resource in your pet parenthood journey.

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