Aqueos First Aid Spray and Ticks on Dogs

Aqueos First Aid Spray and Ticks on Dogs

Ticks on Dogs: How to Recognise and Remove Them


Ticks are parasites that attach to the skin and feed on blood. While doing so, they can transmit certain diseases, such as Lyme disease. This makes it even more important to remove any ticks you see on your dog quickly and safely. If you live in a high-risk area, tick repellents are a good idea through the warmer months. Here’s all you need to know about dog ticks!

Dog ticks

Ticks are parasites that look like small spiders. They have 8 legs and a bulbous body, which fills with blood (so enlarges) as the tick feeds. They are typically found in areas with long grass, woodlands or areas with lots of wildlife. They are most common in summer or warmer weather.

What does a tick bite look like on a dog?

The tick itself will be tiny when it first attaches. As it feeds, its body will grow in size making it look round and shiny. They can look pink, grey or purple-blue tinged. Many owners mistake them for skin tags or warts initially, so it’s important to look closely! You should be able to see their legs near where they attach to the body.

If you don’t notice and remove it, the tick will fall off once it is full, leaving a tick bite. After removal, the tick bite will resemble a small red bump, a scab or a tiny wound. The skin may appear inflamed around the tick bite.

Dog tick diseases

Ticks can also transmit diseases, known as tick-borne diseases. Some ticks in the UK carry Borrelia, which they transmit when they feed. This is the bacteria which causes Lyme disease (Borreliosis). Less commonly, they can also carry diseases which are newer to the UK, brought in by increased pet travel and imports. If your dog seems unwell after a tick bite, it’s really important that you see your vet as soon as possible, and let them know about the tick.

Lyme disease in dogs

Lyme disease is a serious bacterial infection, which needs prompt treatment. Symptoms to watch out for in dogs include lethargy, fever, poor appetite, enlarged lymph nodes (glands), lameness and swollen joints. Many of these signs are non-specific, meaning they can also be caused by many other diseases. If you notice any of these symptoms in your pet, see your vet as soon as possible.

Dog tick removal

It’s really important to remove a tick safely and in the right way. Otherwise, you may increase the risk of infection or leave the mouthparts stuck in your dog. When removing dog ticks you should never squeeze, crush or pull the tick.

Here’s how to get a tick off a dog:

The safest way to remove a tick is by using a little tick-removal tool. You can buy these at vet practices, online or in pet shops.

You gently slide the tick removal device under the tick’s body and twist it in a clockwise direction, without pulling.

The tick will come loose and fall off.

If you aren’t sure how to use the tool or you are worried, it’s safest to book a consult with a vet or vet nurse for them to do it for you. They can also teach you how, if you would like.

What to do after removing a tick from a dog

Don’t try to pick up the tick with your hands, or it may attach to you! You can pick it up with tissue and carefully dispose of it, then remember to wash your hands.

Gently clean your dog’s skin where you removed the tick with an antiseptic wipe, wash or spray. You could also use a mild saltwater solution, although this may sting! Check your dog’s skin where the tick was attached. If it looks like some of the tick or the tick’s mouthparts are still present, you should have this checked by a vet.

It’s important to monitor the area. The small red bump that is left after a tick bite should disappear in a few days. If it looks red, swollen or infected, or your dog becomes unwell, then you should contact your vet as soon as possible.

Tick prevention for dogs

Although it’s impossible to completely prevent tick bites, you can minimise the risk. In the summer, try to avoid long grass or high-risk areas (some woodlands are known for ticks, for example). You can check if you are in a high-risk area using this online map.

Try to check your dog for ticks after walks, you can always tie this in with a grooming (or cuddle) session!

Consider using a flea treatment that also works on ticks, especially in the summer months. In most cases, the tick will need to attach and feed in order to be killed, and this can take 24-48 hours. This means you should still remove any ticks as soon as you see them, to reduce the risk of tick-borne diseases.

If you live in a high-risk area, it’s worth chatting to your vet about tick-repellent collars, which repel ticks before they have a chance to attach and feed.

Take home message

Ticks are blood-feeding parasites which are more common in warmer months, and in long grass, woodland and areas with lots of wildlife. They can transmit disease, so it’s important to remove a tick as soon as you see one or book a consult with your vet/vet nurse to do this for you. If you notice your pet is unwell following a tick bite, see your vet as soon as possible. If you live in a high-risk area, speak with your vet about suitable tick repellents.

This article was written by Dr Sarah-Jane Molier BSc BVM&S MRCVS