Did Your Dog Pick Up a Tick on Your Latest Walk? Here’s What to Do

Ticks, those small, blood-sucking cousins of spiders, are out in record numbers this year. Time Magazine calls 2023 the worst tick season ever with an increase in tick sightings and a rise in tick-borne diseases like Lyme.

While technically, the usual tick season is officially over, climate change affects how long these parasites can live out in the woods. Even now, they might be out there on your next evening stroll with your dog.

Back home, you go in for your usual belly rub and notice your four-legged friend has a stowaway latched onto their skin. What are you to do? First of all, don’t panic — while ticks can spread dangerous diseases to man and his best friend, you can keep everyone safe by following this guide.

Remove the Tick Quickly

Removing the tick is your first order of business. Most ticks need up to 48 hours of blood-sucking to transmit diseases, so the sooner you attempt this task, the better.

The American Kennel Club recommends fine-point tweezers for removal. They’re safer than using your fingers, and they reduce the chances you tear the tick in the process, which may spread infections.

Once removed, you should wash your hands thoroughly, then clean out the bite area on your dog using rubbing alcohol. Don’t forget to clean your tweezers with alcohol, too.

If you don’t feel comfortable removing the tick on your own, take your dog to the vet. These professionals will make short work of this removal.

Check with Your Vet

You should book an appointment with your vet, even if you successfully remove the tick on your own. Your vet can draw blood to ensure your dog hasn’t been infected with Lyme or other tick-transmitted diseases, like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Babesiosis, and Ehrlichiosis. They can also check that the bite hasn’t irritated the skin to the point of infection.

If this unexpected vet visit is more than you can afford, think twice about skipping your appointment to save money. Instead, talk to your vet to see if they can offer a discount or financing plan that helps you afford your bill.

You can also consider personal loans online to help you afford these financing plans. You may use personal loans for your dog the same way you might borrow money for medical expenses for your family. Emergency personal loans give your finances some breathing room since you can pay off blood work over multiple, spaced-out payments rather than one lump sum.

Invest in Tick Prevention Medication

With the rise of ticks, you should also consider adding tick prevention medication into your usual vet expenses, if you don’t already do so. This monthly medication comes in topical treatments and chewable tablets that make your dog less appealing to ticks. They’re usually combined with flea medication and cost between $40 and $200 a year.

That’s a huge cost to add to your budget suddenly. Unfortunately, emergency personal loans can’t be your cushion in this situation, as tick prevention is an expected and regular expense. Instead, sit down with your budget to see how many takeaways and subscriptions services you need to cancel to free up this amount for your dog.

To double down on your prevention, consider swapping out your dog’s collar with a tick collar. This collar releases a chemical that kills ticks before they can take a chomp out of Fido. Just be careful when using these collars. Since they contain toxic chemicals, you can’t let your dog chew on their collar.

Examine Your Dog After Every Walk

Don’t assume your dog is tick free just by looking at them. Ticks bury deep into your dog’s fur to get to skin, so they may not always be visible to the naked eye. Be thorough with your search, running your hands through your dog’s fur carefully. Pay close attention to their ears and leg creases; however, tick can latch on anywhere — from head to tail and everything in between.

Give Your Dog a Bath with Special Shampoo

If you and your best friend love to have adventures in the woods, you are at a greater risk of picking up a tick than dog owners who walk exclusively on city sidewalks. You might start to notice you have ticks riding your dog home every time you go out.  

If ticks have become a common occurrence, a tick shampoo can help you address any stowaways you miss during your physical examination. These medicated shampoos are designed to kill fleas and ticks.

Be Tick Smart

Unfortunately, ticks are here to stay, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on the great outdoors. Being aware of the risk can help you keep your dog from getting bit. Invest in tick prevention medication and schedule regular check-ups. And since ticks like to live in tall grasses, keeping your lawn short doesn’t hurt either!