Ticked Off

Ticks. Something about that word makes my hair stand on end. I'm not bothered by insects in general, but ticks really get my goat. They bite, feed on you and carry disease. Not much to love there! Having recently found a tick crawling up my hand as I enjoyed a lazy evening in the hammock, I'm reminded that tick season is upon us again. They are especially prevalent in woodsy areas and pastures with long grass. In part because that's where their livelihoods exist (deer, rabbits, mice..) and in part because they desiccate easily and need to be somewhere moist to survive. Not all ticks carry disease, but the ones that do, carry yucky things like Lyme disease

The poodles live to explore the woods and run through the grass. I can't stop them from doing that, nor would I want to. Instead, I have to protect them (and myself) from becoming the host for a pesky tick, or two. Most people take precautions of some kind to prevent fleas, ticks, heart worm etc. and there are a lot of options out there. I'm not going down that controversial path at the moment. Instead, this post is intend to show you how to check your dog for ticks. Even if you use a repellent of some kind, it is still good practice to do a physical check as well.

After a fun day playing outside, hiking in the woods, or walking through the park it is important to check your dog for ticks (during the warmer months between spring and autumn). The act of checking the poodles just seems like snuggle time. Any excuse to love-up my pups is always good! Ticks are most easily felt with your hands as small, hard bumps. You can also use a comb to help part your dog's hair if needed. Go gently, you don't want to break the tick off or squish it. More on how to remove a tick in a moment.


  1. Start from one end or the other. I start with the head. Feel all over the scalp and around the ears. Once I found a tick under Teddy's collar, so check those hidden areas too.
  2. Next, move to 'armpits'. Feel where each leg meets the body. Ticks like areas with thin, soft skin.
  3. Move across the torso and back to the tail and groin region. Again, there's that thin soft skin!
  4. Lastly, check paws, including between toes. I recently read an article about a man who walked his dog one summer evening in Eastern Washington and found 20 ticks just between his pup's toes!




When you find a tick, it is likely that it will have bitten your pup and its head will be inside the skin. The body may be swollen and fat with blood, or it may not, depending on how long it has been there. Some ticks are very small, like a grain of sand, others are larger. Don't dismiss it as nothing just because it is small! Here are some images to show you the variety in sizes.

Ticks can be tiny, like this one I found crawling on my hand.
To remove a tick, you'll need fine-tipped tweezers. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull straight up. Try not to twist or break the tick. You don't want to leave any parts behind. If you do, it can lead to infection. If needed, consult your vet. It is a good idea to save the tick for a few weeks (kill it first with some rubbing alcohol). That way, if you or your pup get sick you can send the tick out for testing to see if it carried any disease.

If you're interested about the risk in your state, Web MD has a tick map you can refer to. Or, if you plan to travel this summer, check the risk at your destination beforehand. Don't forget to check your body as well!

Comments

  1. Thanks for this post. I didn't think we had to worry about ticks here. Our dogs are rarely in the woods and we don't have any tall grass on our property, but this is good information, because sometimes they go on a walkabout. I'll start checking them.

    And WOW that one is small. How would I even find that? Yikes!

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  2. Thanks for the great hints. We have a foot of snow on the ground yet the ticks are still active! Argh!

    When I got my first tick attached to me as a kid, my parents were having a serious meeting with a US senator for our state. I ran into the room, freaking out, and my parents had no idea what to do about a tick. The famous senator ended up removing my tick! My one claim to fame :)

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  3. Cole got a tick bite while on frontline. It transmitted Rocky Mt Spotted Fever. We live near Annapolis in MD. Four months of antibiotics... barely survived. The vet said it transmits on bite, not like lyme that takes a day. oy!
    LeeAnna

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