Repel, Check, Remove. Your guide to protecting your dogs against ticks.

Many ticks prefer dogs as hosts. Dogs are often easy targets when playing in the garden or going for a walk in wooded areas 

Ticks have four life stages: egg, larva (infant), nymph (immature) and adult (mature). All stages except the egg need to feed on a host, or else the tick will die. Most ticks die before they are able to find a host.  Feeding from a host can take between ten minutes and a couple of hours, depending on the size of the tick. Ticks stick to their hosts by firmly attaching their mouths to the host’s skin and they then begin sucking blood. The majority of ticks use 3 hosts, feeding on a different host for the larvae, nymph and adult life stages, respectively.

Ticks are adapted to feed for long periods of time. They bury their curved teeth deeply into the skin of a host, so they can remain securely attached for days on end to eat. It’s important to note that ticks typically require 24-48 hours of feeding before they can successfully transmit infections like Lyme disease, so prompt removal is crucial. Only adult females and nymphs can transmit infections through their bite.

There are a number of aspects of managing the tick problem.

  1. What management should you do to minimise the risk..most inportantly, regularilly inspect your dogs coat!
  2. What products are helpful in preventing tick infestation
  3. What techniques are best in removing ticks

When are ticks active?

Ticks are commonly more active in open (as well as woodland and urban) areas in spring and autumn. But don't be fooled into thinking they're just a warm weather problem; they can, in fact, be found in your dog's environment throughout the year.

These days, it's not just on local walks that you need to be aware of the presence of ticks. Foreign ticks, such as the exotic brown dog (or kennel) tick have been found on recently travelled dogs in the UK.  With a 75% increase in pet movement into the UK, it's now more important than ever to protect your pet against the risk of ticks.

10 tips for avoiding ticks for you and your pet

  1. Out walking, wear suitable clothing: wearing shorts in tick habitat is an invitation to be bitten!
  2. Insect repellents can be sprayed on to clothing, but always follow the manufacturers guidelines.
  3. Carry a tick removal tool and antiseptic wipes.
  4. Walk in the centre of paths and avoid over-hanging vegetation at the edge of paths where ticks may be waiting.
  5. Have a 'tick buddy' to help you check your body and be your dog's 'tick buddy'.
  6. Deter ticks from gardens: keep leaf litter to a minimum, grass short, vegetation cut back, and seating and play equipment away from borders, trees and bird feeders.
  7. Keep pets tick free using tick-control products.
  8. Treat pet accessories with repellents too.
  9. Groom pets thoroughly: make sure you brush against, as well as with, the hair growth to see any embedded ticks. Check inside the ears, around the eyes, on the chin and around the muzzle, as well as between pads and toes.
  10. Don't bring ticks home: take off outer clothes before going indoors. Tests have demonstrated that ticks can survive a full cycle in the washing machine and short periods in a dryer.

How can I tell if my dog has ticks?

After taking your dog for a walk, it’s a good idea to check them for ticks.  You can do this by moving your hands over their body to check for any unusual small bumps, particularly around their:

  • Ears
  • Head
  • Neck
  • Groin
  • Armpits
  • Feet

Repellents and Medications

Doghealth recommends the use of spray on repellents, and in particular our own product, the award winning DYNA-MITEconcentrated herbal repellent. This is supplied in 250 ml bottle and is diluted at a rate of 1,000 . So one bottle makes 250 litres of herbal repellent…enough for most people for a summer!! DYNE-MITE contains a range of effective herbal oils  - cedarwood, penny royal, lemon grass, tea tree oil, lavender, citronella and lanolin.

The advantage of a repellent is that it is safe and non toxic  ( it protects - it is not insecticidal) and is multi purpose, so can be used by owners against midges and mosquitoes,  and on a full range of animals ( nb horses).

In our experience DYNA-MITE is extremely effective and very economic, and of course safe.

You might also consider other products which are designed to kill a tick on contact. However, these do not prevent tick bites.

Spot-on Treatments

Using an over the counter spot-on medication that you purchase from your veterinarian, pet store, or online can be a very effective method for controlling both ticks and fleas. These medications are effective at keeping parasites at bay for up to a month. While these medications are great, you still need to be very careful about which one you use. Make sure you read all labels carefully, and if you have any doubts, be sure to get advice from your veterinarian before application.

Oral Medications

Pills that are given once a month are readily available for dogs. These medications can work to kill both ticks and immature fleas and will disrupt the life cycle of fleas. They are easy to give and you won’t have to be concerned about small children and cats coming into contact with dogs immediately after application, as you might with spot-on treatments.


Bathing your dog with a shampoo that contains medicated ingredients will generally kill ticks on contact. This can be an inexpensive (though labour-intensive) method of protecting your dog during the peak tick season. You will need to repeat the process more often, about every two weeks, as the effective ingredients won’t last as long as a spot-on or oral medication.

Tick Dips

A dip is a concentrated chemical that needs to be diluted in water and applied to the animal’s fur with a sponge or poured over the back. This treatment is not meant to be rinsed off after application. The chemicals used in dips can be very strong, so be sure to read the labels carefully before use. You should not use a dip for very young animals (under four months) or for pregnant or nursing pets. Ask your veterinarian for advice before treating puppies, or pregnant or nursing pets.

Tick Collars

Collars that repel ticks are an additional preventive you can use, though they are mainly only useful for protecting the neck and head from ticks. The tick collar needs to make contact with your dog’s skin in order to transfer the chemicals onto the dog’s fur and skin. When putting this type of collar on your dog, you will need to make sure there is just enough room to fit two fingers under the collar when it’s around the dog’s neck. Cut off any excess length of collar to prevent your dog from chewing on it. Watch for signs of discomfort (e.g., excessive scratching) in case an allergic reaction to the collar occurs. Make sure you read the labels carefully when choosing a collar.

My own preference is to use a natural repellent as my general rule is to avoid introducing chemicals to my dogs, but I have tried to objectively set out the choices!!

Removal techniques

If ticks are not removed from your dog immediately or within a few hours, they can engorge themselves into your dog’s skin. Engorged tick removal can be a little more difficult, compared to the removal of those ticks that have not engorged themselves.

Killing the tick on site

Step 1: This is the best method to use and works well for engorged ticks. Apply a drop or two of the essential oil Palo Santo, or an alternative vinegar directly to the tick. This should kill it within a few minutes.

Alternatively, you could spray a small amount of alcohol on the tick. This will make it dizzy and it will immediately let go of its hold on your dog.

Step 2: Once the tick has loosened its grip, you need to remove it carefully and gently from the dog’s body. Be sure not to burst the tick, as it may carry disease.

Step 3: Remove all the ticks from your pet’s body, put them into a jar with a couple of drops of  vinegar or a good amount of alcohol. Dispose of the tick when it is dead.

Removal of tick manually

Step 1: Gently grip your dog’s skin. Get a firm hold on the tick by pinching it and twist it in an anti-clockwise direction while applying a little pressure, if required. This will make the tick dizzy and it will loosen its hold.

Step 2: Maintaining your grip on the tick, pull it out gently and crush it by pressing it between two newspaper sheets, or you can flush it.

Engorged Tick Removal Technique

Step 1: Using a pair of pointed tweezers, grasp the tick at the area where it is engorged in the dog’s skin.

Step 2: Once it has been firmly grasped, pull the tick out steadily without twisting or jerking.

Do not use force or pressure that will cause the tick to rupture or separate it from its head. At times, a part of the tick may remain embedded in the dog’s skin. Do not try to extract it, as it may be painful for the dog. The remaining embedded part will be disposed of on its own, eventually. You can use a cream, such as MOOR GOLD HERBAL CREAM to soothe skin and encourage natural expulsion of any remnants.

Tick Removal Tools

A number of canine tick removal tools are available commercially, some more effective than others. If you are gentle and patient, there is little need for these tools. If you are persistent, eventually the tick will give up and release its hold on your dog.

Dog tick removal is an important aspect of your dog’s regular care. It is best to prevent tick infestation and there are many natural methods that are both safe and effective.