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How to Find Ticks on Dogs: Where They Hide the Most

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Ticks can be easily found on your dog. You can find them with a flea comb, your fingertips. or if you closely monitor your dog’s behavior. They like to hide in dark places with plenty of moisture, such as in the armpits, ears, and under the collar.

All dogs have a risk of attracting ticks.

These external parasites feel the vibrations from humans and animals and prepare to cling to anyone who passes by.

But, you don’t have to worry if your dog is infected by a tick. Although ticks can transmit diseases to pets and humans, not all of these parasites carry pathogens.

To reduce the risk of transmitting these dangerous diseases to your dog, check your dog for ticks whenever you return from a walk. 

You can do it by hand or with a flea comb.

In this article, you’ll learn where ticks like to hide on dogs, how to tell if your dog has ticks, and how to check your dog for ticks.

Where Do Ticks Hide on Dogs?

Ticks commonly hide in dark and moist places, such as the ear canal, under your dog’s collar or harness, in the groin area, etc. Ticks can attach themselves all over dogs’ bodies.

Ticks can hide and feed all over your pet’s body, but they usually prefer dark and moist places with thin and sensitive skin.

They have some areas they prefer and most often attach in these places, especially in double-coated and long-haired breeds.

Here are the most common places to find ticks on dogs:

  • The ear canal.
  • Outside the ear.
  • Around the eyes.
  • At the corner of the mouth.
  • Under the chin.
  • Under the neck.
  • Between the shoulder blades.
  • Under the collar or harness.
  • Groin area.
  • Perianal area.
  • The base of the tail.
  • Armpits.
  • On the inside of the legs.
  • Between the toes.
  • Under the paws.
  • Between skin folds (wrinkled dog breeds, such as Pug or Shar-Pei).

It is best to remember all these areas to know exactly where to look when checking your dog for ticks.

Where Do Ticks Hide on Dogs

How to Tell if Your Dog Has Ticks

You can tell your dog has ticks if it shakes its head, scratches and bites intensely, and yelps from time to time. Ticks can also cause an allergic reaction or a local reaction at the bite site. In this case, your dog can have localized red bumps or lumps or skin redness on larger areas.

A dog with ticks may show strange behavior. Symptoms of tick infestation in dogs include:

  • Itching and scratching
  • Yelping
  • Overgrooming
  • Red, hard bumps or lumps and/or erythema (redness of the skin)
  • Head shaking).

Itching and Scratching

Dog Itching and Scratching

Dogs scratch in response to ticks. They scratch the most when ticks are not yet attached to their skin. This is because ticks cause itchiness to their feet as they walk through animals’ fur.

Tick saliva has anesthetic properties[1], and your dog usually won’t feel anything when the tick attaches. An attached tick can cause itching if your dog experiences an allergic reaction to its saliva.

Yelping

Yelping occurs when a tick attaches to your dog’s skin. 

Ticks’ mouthpieces are developed to cut into the host’s skin and feed.

Overgrooming

Dog Overgrooming

A dog can overgroom itself when it has ticks. It will lick and bite the areas where ticks are attached because it feels irritated. Some dogs manage to detach ticks through this behavior.

Hard Lumps or Erythema

Tick bite marks look like most insect bites, especially mosquito bites. They are hard, red lumps that often cause itching.

A generalized allergy can also develop in sensitive dogs that have been parasitized or bitten by ticks for a long time[2]. Some dogs can even develop secondary bacterial infections.

Head-Shaking

dog Shaking and Limping

This symptom usually occurs in dogs that have ticks in the ear canal. Their presence makes dogs uncomfortable, and the dog shakes its head to get rid of the tick.

Another common symptom when a dog has a tick in its ear canal is pawing at the affected ear. It scratches its head to get rid of the tick.

How to Find Ticks on Dogs (3 Methods)

You can find ticks on dogs with three methods: visual inspection, manual, or by using a flea comb. With a visual inspection, you locate ticks that are in visible places. It is recommended to always use your hands for a more detailed check.

By regularly checking your dog for ticks, you reduce the risk of them attaching, engorging, and transmitting diseases. It takes a tick between a few hours[3] to 36 hours[4] to transmit tick-borne diseases, so it’s important to get rid of them quickly.

Take a good look at your pet before leaving the house. This way, it is easier to notice a tick on your dog when you return.

Inspect everything that looks like a tick to you.

Related: What Does a Tick Look Like on a Dog?

1. Visual Inspection

Visual Inspection of dog

On visual inspection, you can notice ticks that are attached to the outside of your dog’s ear, around the eyes, in the corner of the mouth, or on the abdomen.

Engorged ticks stand out the most because they are large and blobular, making them easy to see.

2. Manual Inspection

During a manual inspection, you check your dog for ticks from head to toe using your fingers or tools. First, remove your dog’s collar, harness, or clothes. Start with your pet’s head and end at the top of its tail. Don’t forget to look in the ear canal and between its toes.

Feel every inch of your dog’s skin and fur with your fingers. You will feel a bump when you find a tick. Do not try to remove the tick with your hands.

This process takes longer in larger breeds, so you need to have patience.

3. Combing With a Flea Comb

dog Flea Combs

Although checking for ticks with a flea comb is not a highly recommended method (because you can traumatize or tear a tick), it can work if you are gentle.

A flea comb has short, very thick teeth. It is very effective in catching fleas, but it can also be useful if you want to find small and unattached ticks that roam through your pet’s fur.

Comb your dog’s hair slowly and gently. Dispose of a tick in soapy water when you find one.

Do not comb your dog’s hair too close to its skin. If it has moles or skin tags, you can break them and cause bleeding.

The downside of using a flea comb is that you can accidentally tear ticks when you come across them. This can make them pour their infectious gut contents into your dog’s bloodstream faster.

How to Find Ticks on Long-Haired Dogs

If your dog has long hair, check for ticks with your hands thoroughly, then use a flea comb or a thick comb. This way, you can catch the small unattached ticks that are roaming in your dog’s hair.

Long-haired dogs, such as Shetland sheepdog, Golden Retriever, Bernese Mountain, and others, generally attract more ticks than short hair breeds. Ticks can cling to their fur much easier, and the long hair allows them to hide much better. Small ticks are also less noticeable in a long-haired dog.

Ticks on Black Dogs

Ticks are much harder to spot on dogs with black hair or pigmented skin.

In this case, engorged ticks are more noticeable due to the contrast between their color, which is white-green, yellow, or pink, and your dog’s skin.

Small, unfed ticks have a dark brownish color and are almost impossible to see. Due to this, it is recommended to rigorously check your dog for ticks using a thick comb.

FAQs

Would I Be Able to See Ticks on My Dog?

Yes, you can see ticks on dogs. Especially if the ticks are attached in visible places such as on the ears, around the eyes, and on the abdomen. Engorged ticks are easy to notice in short-haired breeds.

Where Do Ticks Hide the Most on Dogs?

Ticks hide the most between the toes, in the groin area, at the base of the tail, under the chin, or between the skin folds (for wrinkled breeds). 

About Iulia Mihai (DVM)

Dr. Iulia is a certified veterinarian with more than 10 years of experience in the field. With extensive knowledge of diet, care, and medication, she helps Misfit Animals provide readers with accurate knowledge on technical topics.

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