How to Treat Tick Bites on Dogs

Tick bites on dogs are a danger for the dog and the owner as well. It is important that you are prepared to remove the tick and watch for symptoms of diseases that ticks may transmit. Preventing tick bites and reacting quickly if your dog is bitten will keep your dog in good health.

How to Treat Tick Bites on Dogs

The owner's ability to remove and treat the tick bite as soon as possible is essential.

If you live in a tick contaminated area, you should check your dog for ticks after every outing, at least once a day. Check for bulgy areas on the skin, near the ears, on the legs, between the dog's toes, and in areas with less hair.

Remove the tick using tweezers or a special device, grabbing the tick by its head. It is vital that you do not leave the head or the mouthpiece inside.

Do not squeeze the tick, as its secretions spread disease.

It is best to keep the tick in a jar with some rubbing alcohol so you can give it to your veterinarian for tests if any symptoms appear. Wear gloves when removing ticks.

Wash the bite spot with soap and water, disinfect with rubbing alcohol then apply antibiotic ointment.

Watch for any signs of infection during the following days. If infection appears, visit your veterinarian.

Avoid These Methods

Be careful about methods that are said to work when it comes to treat tick bites and remove bites such as using petroleum jelly, alcohol or burning the tick with a match. These won’t work and they will further injure your dog.

Diseases Caused by Ticks

Fortunately, not all ticks carry diseases and they need to be attached to the dog's body for over 3 hours to feed on the dog’s blood in order to transmit a disease. A regular tick can take from hours to days to feed, so removing it in time can prevent the transmission of a tick disease. There are conditions that can appear immediately after the tick bite, while others will have an incubation period of weeks or even months:

  •  Tick paralysis is caused by a toxin that the tick eliminates in its host's body. Limb weakness will appear 5 to 7 days after the tick has attached itself to the dog. This can be lethal if the tick is not removed.
  •  Lyme disease can appear 3 to 5 months after the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria are transmitted through the tick bite. Most common symptoms are lameness, joint and muscle pain and fever.
  • Ehrlichiosis is a condition in which a bacterium infects white cells, which start multiplying. The initial symptoms include anemia and lack of appetite, which can be noticed 1 to 3 weeks after the tick bite.
  • Babesiosis, which is an infection of the red blood cells causing cell rupture, facilitating the spread of the bacteria. Most cases start with anemia.
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever is caused by the contamination with Rickettsia rickettsii. The dog can have no symptoms at all and only lab tests may show the infection. In more advanced cased, general signs of weakened health can appear.