Ticks on Your Dog: It’s a Conversation if You’re Listening

It is well-known that ticks can harm your dog by the disease they carry. But can a tick bite itself hurt your dog?

It might depend on where the tick attaches. It seemed to be the case with Sam whose foot became severely painful when a tick attached.

Ticks on Your Dog: It's a Conversation if You're Listening

Listening to your dog

The only way to ever learn anything is by listening, observing and paying attention.

One time, when I was petting Cookie she seemed unusually reactive to touch around her right flank. She’d twist her hip toward me, look in that direction and lick the air.

I know she’s painful in that area now but this wasn’t a pain response.

Perhaps she was itchy in there somewhere. I rubbed the area and she seemed happy with that. However, next time I touched her there, she had the same response.

An itchy spot?

Did she have a really itchy spot?

The only time Jasmine reacted in a similar way was when she had a skin infection at the base of her tail. So I looked through carefully, smelled it all over and didn’t smell anything suspicious. Ran my hands through the fur and didn’t feel anything suspicious.

There was no smell, no oozing, no flaking, no matted hair though she was shedding a bit. I FURminated her and she seemed to like that a lot. Got the loose hairs out but it still didn’t seem to fix it.

“Did you catch a flea at the vet?” I asked jokingly because that was the only explanation left I could think of.

Finding the culprit

I kept running my hands over her, parting her hair and trying to look and feel for things. Then I came across something stuck in the fur. For a moment it looked like one of the burs we have around here which look a little bit like a tiny little seed but do have a prickly end. Cookie is often covered with them. Other burs don’t stick to her but these do and require manual removal. It seemed as if one of those got really into the skin. But while they can get deep into the fur, actually sticking into the skin would be unusual.

Before trying to pull it out, I figured I’d better make sure that’s what it is.

Because it was so tiny, I put on my glasses, grabbed a flashlight and a magnifying glass.

It wasn’t a bur, it was a tick!

It was relatively tiny, probably an adult that was not engorged yet. I went to grab my trusty Tick Twister and got the sucker out. Drowned it in rubbing alcohol and rubbed some on the bite wound too.

Cookie stayed still for the whole procedure, happy that we found what was bothering her and took care of it.

Thank you, Cookie, for letting us know. Good girl.

We do check our dogs for ticks and bumps regularly but lately, with everything that was going on, as well with the rather cold weather, we slacked off a bit. Plus I doubt we’d feel it in the thick fur without knowing where to look because it was so small. But with Cookie’s help, we found it.

Most importantly, I believed her when she was telling me something was bothering her there.

Related articles:
The Ticking Bomb
Tick Prevention for Dogs: What Do You Use for Tick Prevention?

Further reading:
Ticks: What Are They & How to Get Rid of Them

Categories: Dog careDog health advocacyParasitesSymptomsTicks

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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