The Insane Heartworm Life Cycle in Dogs

The heartworm life cycle in dogs is a long journey from mosquito bite to a heart chamber full of foot-long worms.  Mosquitoes for you and I are mostly just a nuisance. Sure, they can carry some pretty nasty disease, but if you live in North America, that’s pretty rare. 

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Dogs, however, are vulnerable to heartworm. The heartworm life cycle in dogs is long and never-ending unless your dog is treated with prescription medication.

Keep reading to get some perspective on how important it really is to get rid of these parasites.

If you live in an hot, humid area where mosquitoes are endemic, it’s really important to have your pets protected against heartworm.  It’s a relatively small but important investment for the health and safety of your dog(s). 

How Do Dogs Contract Heartworm?

Dog contract heartworms through the bite of an infected mosquito. The larvae are transmitted through the saliva of the mosquito which then make their way through the dog’s bloodstream. 

Heartworms can grow to be a foot long. They live inside your dog’s heart, lungs, and blood vessels, often with little signs or symptoms in the early stages.  Early on, you might notice an occasional cough without realizing there is a bigger problem brewing inside.

Watch the following Youtube video to get a better sense of heartworm disease in dogs

Dogs are a natural host for heartworms, but they also thrive in the bodies of other mammals.  For example, wolves, coyotes, foxes, and others are prone to this parasite.

There Must be SOME Signs or Symptoms!

It can take heartworms up to six months to really start showing signs in your dog. At that point, coughing may be more pronounced and you might notice weight loss. Your normally active dog suddenly stops playing and may not have an appetite. 

As the worms grow, your dog may become tired easily and unable to play like he/she used to. The reason for that is because heartworm infections slowly destroy the heart muscle and arteries leading to the lungs.

As these organs waste away, it’s harder and harder for your dog to get the oxygen needed for energy. 

Read about heartworm prevention written by the American Heartworm Society.

What Can I Do? 

If you haven’t started a monthly heartworm preventative yet, don’t panic. As long as your dog still appears healthy, you can start a program immediately.

The first thing you want to do is get your dog to a veterinarian.  Yes, there are over-the-counter worm medications for dogs, but most only cover the basics (roundworm, whipworm, hookworm). 

In order to successfully get rid of a heartworm infection, you’re going to have to keep your dog on a continuous, year-round treatment plan.  

Why Does the Treatment Have to be Year-Long?

Treating heartworms in dogs is a long process.  Medications might kill the mature adult worm, but it will do nothing to the growing larvae waiting for their chance to thrive.

The only way to adequately treat heartworms in dogs is to give them a continuous treatment through the whole year. 

Keep in mind that this might depend on where you live.  I live in an area in eastern Canada where the temperatures are only hot and mild a few months out of the year. 

However, if you live anywhere in the southern US, where temperatures are warm enough year-round, you’re going to want to protect your dog.d

A Few Months of Treatment Doesn’t do the Trick!

The reason it takes so long to treat heartworm is because of the parasite’s life cycle. It takes six months for the parasite to mature from larvae to adult and by then, your dog may have been re-infected with further mosquito bites. 

Heartworms can actually live inside your dog for up to 7 years! Every time your dog is bitten by a mosquito, a whole new heartworm life cycle is started.

By giving regular, continuous heartworm medications, you can be sure to get the entire infestation while stopping further ones from taking hold.

Heartworms can actually live inside your dog for up to 7 years! Every time your dog is bitten by a mosquito, a whole new heartworm life cycle is started. By giving regular, continuous heartworm medications, you can be sure to get the entire infestation while stopping further ones from taking hold.

Are Heartworm Medications Safe for my Dog?

Federally approved heartworm medications that are prescribed by a licensed veterinarian are safe.

All medications (whether it’s our own prescriptions or prescriptions for our dogs) carry risk of side-effects. Generally speaking, these side-effects are usually mild and are not nearly as dangerous as the infestation. 

Let’s face it, heartworms kill dogs.  Dogs who’ve been rescued from the streets are often loaded with heartworms.

Unfortunately, many of these dogs are already in the danger zone when they’re found.  Once a dog has heartworms, the parasites continue to grow and multiply. Without treatment, they cause the cardiovascular system to stop working, resulting in death. 

Let’s face it, heartworms kill dogs.  Dogs who’ve been rescued from the streets are often loaded with heartworms. Unfortunately, many of these dogs are already in the danger zone when they’re found.  Once a dog has heartworms, the parasites continue to grow and multiply. Without treatment, they cause the cardiovascular system to stop working, resulting in death. 

Avoiding the Deadly Caval Syndrome

Once a dog is in the stages of cardiovascular collapse, he/she is in what’s known as “caval syndrome”. This is a life-threatening emergency.  The signs and symptoms of caval syndrome in dogs includes heavy breathing, pale gums, dark bloody urine.  If the dog has reached this critical point, chances of survival are slim. 

Do I Live in A Heartworm Endemic Region?

Look at maps from 2013 onwards and you’ll notice that the areas of endemic mosquito populations are rising. The heaviest population of larvae-carrying mosquitoes is in the southern and eastern parts of the United States and Canada. 

To get a better idea of where heartworm is highest, take a look at these maps. 

There MUST be Natural Ways to Get Rid of Heartworm in Dogs!

No matter what anybody tells you, homeopathic options are not the way to go.  Alternative or all natural worming methods have existed for centuries and, in some cases, they have shown to be a least partially effective.  

Heartworms, however, don’t live in the digestive system where something like diatomaceous earth could potentially aid in killing parasites.  They don’t live in the dog’s fur or in the uppermost layers of skin either. There is no way for a natural remedy to penetrate the heart muscle and arteries. 

Trifexis for Dogs 

Specialized medicines like Trifexis, for example, have been tested and proven successful in ridding dogs of heartworm infestation.  However, as stated above, it will only work with continual treatment. Even if you successfully treat one infestation, your dog will surely succumb to another one, especially if he/she lives in a region prone to the parasitic infection.

Is My Family At Risk of Contracting Heartworm?

Mosquitoes carry a wide number of pathogens that can be passed on to humans. These pathogens include bubonic plague and dengue fever (in sub-tropical regions). 

Read this post by the Minnesota Department of Health to get a better idea of the reach mosquitoes have in terms of disease transmission. 

You might not hear about travellers being infected with bubonic plague these days, but I’ll bet you’ve heard of the zika virus, malaria, yellow fever, and west nile. 

In dogs, however, your biggest worry should be the transmission of heartworm. The best way to prevent transmission of heartworm in dogs is to keep them regularly treated with prescription medication.

I’m Afraid to Give My Dog Trifexis

It’s no wonder! Look around the Internet and you’ll find countless fear mongering and anecdotal stories that  probably have no bearing on the safety of drugs like Trifexis. 

The truth is, dogs who’ve died while on Trifexis could have been suffering from underlying conditions before starting the medication. It’s up to the veterinarian to make sure your dog has no other pre-existing conditions before prescribing Trifexis. 

Yes, there is a risk of seizure in dogs who take Trifexis, but (believe it or not) occasional mild seizures are not something to worry about. If your dog has chronic seizures because of epilepsy, the veterinarian might want to prescribe another type of drug.

There are countless worming drugs on the market. However, veterinarians are now starting to notice a decline in the efficiency of old-school deworming medication.  Like bacterium, the worms seems to be developing a resistance to these drugs. 

So What’s the Solution?

It’s really important to get on top of the heartworm life cycle in dogs with an oral or topical solution prescribed by a licensed veterinarian. Anyone who loves their dogs worries about side-effects, so talk to the doctor and ask questions.  Every medication has side-effects, even that Tylenol you take has side effects. Try to remember that the heartworm life cycle is much riskier than FDA approved meds. 

At the end of the day, you dog’s safety is on the line. By administering regular doses of an approved drug, you can keep your dog happy and healthy for years to come. 

My goal of this post was to help you make an informed choice free from the hysteria you may read or hear. It’s very sad when a dog passes away, no matter what the reason. However, please remember that people who are grieving often are also very angry. It’s easy to place the blame somewhere and, sometimes, that blame is on a prescription drug. 

It’s possible that certain drugs are responsible for serious adverse effects. However, a licensed veterinarian should be trusted to make the best choice for your dog’s needs. The veterinarian will base the decision on your dog’s age and current state of health. Regular appointments to monitor your dog’s condition will go a very long way in avoiding serious complications (if any). 


I hope you were able to get some useful information from this post and I welcome your thoughts on the topic.  I realize this is very controversial for many, but thought it was important to state the truth as I see it. Please feel free to comment below or contact me directly at 

Remember…I am not a veterinarian. I do my research carefully and aim to provide good quality resources free from hype.  

Did you find this useful?  If so, please Tweet, Pin, or Post!  Thank you.  I hope you’ll come back soon.

the insane heartworm life cycle in dogs
Goofy dog running away from murderous mosquitoes!

17 Facts About Treating Demodectic Mange

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Treating demodectic mange is a long and messy process.  General demodectic mange is different from other forms of mange.  Puppy’s can get it from their nursing mothers.  Sometimes it will clear up on its own.  Treating demodectic mange means treating the whole body.

Treating Demodectic Mange

My dogs itch every once in a while.  Fly bites and dry skin are the two biggest problems for them.  But how do you know when it’s actually something that needs to be seen by a veterinarian?

You’ll know something is seriously wrong because your dog will literally bite and tear at his skin. It’s that uncomfortable.  You need to know the difference between sarcoptic mange, and the 3 subtypes of demodectic mange, before even considering at-home remedies.

 1. Sarcoptic Mange (Scabies)

Sarcoptic Mange is a highly contagious skin condition that can be passed from dog to dog and from dog to human. It’s caused by a circular, eight-legged mite. 

These mites are not able to reproduce on human skin and will die out within 2 to 5 days.  In dogs, however, sarcoptic mange can live on the dog for a long time. You might not even realize your dog has sarcoptic mange until the condition has progressed.

The mites that cause sarcoptic mange live on the surface of the skin and are more easily treated than demodectic mange.


Symptoms of demodectic mange include intense itching, patchy fur loss, skin infections, red and crusty sores (check the elbows, armpits, tummy, ears, abdomen and chest).

2.  Localized Demodectic Mange (Demodicosis)

Localized demodectic mange is typically seen in puppies who are thought to have contracted it from their mother’s milk.  You might recognize localized demodectic mange by exposed patches of skin on the dog’s face or trunk.  The skin could be red, scaly, or appear completely normal in the early stages.


Symptoms of localized demodectic mange include patches of thinning hair, small, hairless patches, usually appears on a puppy’s face but can also occur on the leg or trunk.

3. Demodectic Mange is not contagious.

This type of skin condition (caused by a microscopic, cigar-shaped mite) is not contagious.  The condition and any underlying causes should be reviewed by a veterinarian.

4. Easy Topical Treatment for Localized Mange in Dogs

Your veterinarian can suggest good ointments to apply to the dog’s skin. You want an ointment to help relieve itching and inflammation.

Also good are ointments with antibacterial properties. Again, your veterinarian is the only qualified person to ask. Ask about Goodinol Ointment . 

No ointment can kill the mite’s eggs buried under the skin. Until those eggs hatch and mature, ointment and other treatment will need to continue.

5. Puppies Could Outgrow Demodectic Mange

Puppies aren’t born with top-notch immune function. However, as they grow, their immune systems develop with them. For this reason, it’s said that up to 90% of puppy’s who have demodectic mange will outgrow it within one or two months.

it’s likely that the puppy will outgrow it. In the meantime, however, a treatment option should be discussed with your veterinarian. Demodectic mange leaves the puppy’s skin vulnerable to serious infection.

6. Generalized Demodectic Mange

Puppy’s born with localized demodectic mange will sometimes heal on their own. If the mite persists and multiplies, it will go on to cover the body and that is known as generalized demodectic mange.   This is a more serious, long-term condition that is often hard to treat. Talk to your veterinarian about safe and appropriate treatment.

NOTE: There are various holistic treatments for things like yeast infections on the skin, but they don’t address the underlying condition.

7. One Big Smelly Dog

Generalized demodectic mange affects the dog’s entire body.  This leaves the immune system compromised and open to yeast and bacteria which, in turn, cause secondary skin infections. It’s the secondary skin infections that smell so foul.

8. Less Stress = Fewer Mites

The longer a dog is under stress, the weaker the immune function.  Some ways to improve your dog’s immune function include a balanced diet, up-to-date parasite control, current vaccinations, healthy exercise, and sufficient human interactions.

9. The No-No’s of Cortisone

Cortisone (typically by injection is used to reduce inflammation. It is a steroid that, when administered to a dog with mange, further lowers the immune system.

When the dog’s immune system is compromised it allows the mites that cause demodectic mange to take over.

10. Ivermectin – What It Is

Ivermectin is the medication used to treat head lice, parasitic infections, and mange.  The medication enters the bloodstream and disables the mites’ nervous system. That signals the dog’s white blood cells to attack and kill the mite.

11. The Dangers of Drug Sensitivities

Herding dogs have a mutated gene that causes them to be seriously allergic to certain drugs, including Ivermectin.  Talk to your veterinarian about this risk, even if your dog is a mixed breed.

12. Dog Breeds and MDR1

The following is a list of breeds and the percentage thought to inherit the MDR1 genetic mutation.

Australian Shepherd 50%

Border Collie – <5%

Chinook 70%

Collie 70%

English Shepherd 15%

German Sherperd 10%

Herding Breed Cross 10%

Silken Windhound 30%

Shetland Sheepdog 15%

Mixed Breed 5%

McNab 30%

Long-haired Whippet 50%

13. The Risks of a Genetic Mutation

If you own a dog from the herding breeds, and he/she has the genetic mutation, your dog is at risk of seriously toxic reactions to at least 12 other medications (including Ivermectin). But how do you know if he/she has the mutation? See #14.

14. Testing for the MDR1 Gene Mutation in Dogs

Washington State University has made a gene mutation test available.  At this writing, the cost of a single test was $60, a small price to pay for peace of mind.

If you own one of the herding breed dogs, have him/her tested for the gene mutation. That way, you’ll be able to work with the veterinarian in finding alternative drug therapies. You know the old saying….what you don’t know is more dangerous than what you do know.

15. Home Remedies for Demodectic Mange

Before treating your dog for demodectic mange, make sure to have a veterinarian make the diagnosis first. Speak with him/her regarding the effectiveness of the following holistic treatments.

a) Aloe Vera Plant

b) Neem Oil

c) Tea Tree Oil

d) Lemon-

e) Garlic

A quick, online search will give you a more comprehensive list of home remedies for demodactic mange.  

Keep in mind that “natural” doesn’t necessarily mean safe.  Your veterinarian can work with you to determine the best treatment plan for you. It’s going to be important to remain consistent with whatever options you choose.

16. Demodectic Mange Cure Time

Demodectic Mange in dogs can take three months or more to fully resolve.  The skin will continue to be affected long after the mites have been eradicated. Dead skin and tissue will take some time to heal.

17. Demodectic Pododermatitis

This type of mange happens on the paws and is susceptible to bacterial infections.  This type of mange in dogs is particularly resistant to treatment.

Pododermatitis is the term used to define inflamed paws. This condition can be caused by any  number of things including general allergies, illness, suppressed immune system, cancer, and environmental toxins. The diagnosis of mange with this condition is difficult and requires biopsy.

At the end of the day, your dog’s health is the important thing.  It seems as if there is a general fear of traditional medications. The truth is, traditional medicines used to treat mange (like Ivermectin) can be deadly to herding breed dogs. 

If your veterinarian is at all concerned about that, he/she will likely recommend an alternative to the drug.  The veterinarian might also want (with your consent) to administer a minute dose to test for a reaction before prescribing a full dose.  Please don’t hesitate to talk openly with your veterinarian about any doggie health concerns you have!

I hope you found this post helpful. Mange can be a complicated topic and I want to be notified if I got something wrong. I am not a veterinarian and I cannot diagnose, treat, suggest treatments, or manage any health condition your dog may have.

Mange is only one of hundreds of conditions a dog can suffer from.  Read about the 11 ways to reclaim your dog’s health before you leave and make sure to sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss important dog-health information.  Please share with your followers!

5 Quick Tips on Ear Mites in Dogs

My dog is constantly digging at her ears. Sometimes I think she’s going to dig out the left side of her face. Is it ear mites?  No.  The veterinarian says it’s nothing but a little extra ear wax. The veterinarian told me if it were ear mites, my dog would have a lot of dark brown stuff coming from her ear canal and her ears would be red and sore.

The veterinarian actually took some time to give me a little tutorial on ear mites and I thought I’d share what I learned with you.

I’ve broken down the information under categories to help you find what you’re looking for.

Signs and Symptoms of Ear Mites in Dogs

  • excessive, rough scratching at the ear
  • blood blisters from so much scratching
  • fur loss around the site
  • head-shaking
  • restlessness
  • walking in circles
  • fatigue
  • buildup of brown waxy secretions
  • ruptured blood vessels

Take a few minutes to hear what the doctor in this YouTube video has to say about ear mites in dogs.


  • Ear mites live on your dog’s skin and inside the ear canal.
  • Ear mites go through an entire life cycle safely within the comforts of your dog’s auditory system.
  • Mites are arthropods, which means they have jointed legs and skeletons on the outside of the body.
  • These microscopic creatures are distant cousins to spiders and insects.
  • They’re like hippies…free-living.
  • Watch out for them! These guys are pretty contagious. If you have one animal with ear mites, there’s a good chance that any other animals you have, also have ear mites.
  • Under a microscope, ear mites look like tiny white moving specks.
  • Untreated ear mites can eventually lead to deafness.
  • Scabies are the kind of mites that humans can get. They live on the outer-most layer of the skin and cause extreme itching.
  • Mites date back 145 – 166 million years.
  • Ear mites are called Otodectes cynotis.
  • You’re more likely to find ear mites in stray dogs, or in dogs who live with a lot of other animals.

How to Get Rid of Ear Mites in Dogs Naturally

I just want to take a second to say that I’m a firm believer in good ole’ pharmaceuticals. They’re proven and they get the work done. That said, I realize there are a lot of people who prefer to try homeopathic methods first.  So, with that in mind, here are a few things you can try, once your dog has been accurately diagnosed with ear mites.

TIP:  These methods work best after the dog’s ears have been cleaned. When cleaning the ears, be careful not to get into the dog’s ear canal.  It’s easy to forget until your dog gives a yelp!

  • Dissolve 1 teaspoon of baking soda in 1 cup of warm water. Soak your dog’s ears using a cotton ball.
  • Combine 1 tablespoon of white vinegar with 2 tablespoons of warm water. Carefully fill the dog’s ear with half of the mixture.  Gently massage the dog’s ear to make sure the solution gets everywhere.  When you’re finished, your dog will want to shake his head so look out. Take a dry cloth and wipe the dog’s ears dry afterwards. Repeat daily for three weeks.
  • Take 9 drops of yellow dock root extract and mix it with 1 tablespoon of warm water. Using a dropper, gently add a few drops to your dog’s ear and massage. It’s suggested you do this every other day for about six weeks.
  • Use green tea. You’ll need to steep the tea until it’s very strong. Once cooled, use cotton balls to swab the dog’s ears. You could also use a dropper.

These are just a few methods to try. It’s important to remember not to miss a day of treatment.  Those mites are going through an entire life-cycle that takes 3 weeks to complete.  If you’ve ever had a flea infestation, you know how hard it is to get rid of them.

How to Get Rid of Ear Mites with Medical Intervention

  • One drop of medicine on the dog’s skin.
  • A medicated wash to flush out your dog’s ear.

That’s it.  It’s not even a list! Bring your dog to the veterinarian and get a topical treatment. It’s fast, easy, effective, and probably cheaper in the long run.  Some medications like Revolution and Advantage Multi also treat other problems like heart worms and fleas, American dog tick, and mange.

Your veterinarian will likely suggest the drug Ivermectin, a broad spectrum anti-parasitic, for immediate treatment and a long-term preventative like Revolution.

Ivermectin is used to treat head lice, scabies, and other parasites.

Frequently Asked Questions About Ear Mites:

  • Where do ear mites come from?

If your dog suddenly has ear mites, he or she probably got them from another animal. Ear mites are very contagious.

  • Can I get ear mites from my infected dog?

It’s possible, but unlikely. Wash your hands after handling your dog and make sure to wear gloves when cleaning around the infected ears.

  • What do ear mites look like?

Ear mites can be seen under a microscope. They look like white dots against a backdrop of a dark brown substance. That substance is what’s left-over after the mites have chewed into your dog’s skin. It’s essentially a buildup of dead skin and blood.

  • Will ear mites go away on their own?

Ear mites must be treated. They will not go away on their own.  In fact, a long-term infestation of ear mites can cause permanent damage to the ear and/or deafness.

  • Can I stop it from ever happening again?

You can! Talk to your veterinarian about topical solutions that you can apply monthly. These medications sometimes work to prevent other problems like worms, fleas, and ticks.


In my opinion, it’s best to have your dog’s ears treated by a professional. You never know what underlying conditions your dog might have. Pharmaceutical treatments are very safe when used as directed. More doesn’t equal better.

If you’d prefer to use home-based treatments, monitor how well it is working and don’t miss a treatment.  If the treatments aren’t working, bring your dog to the veterinarian.  Likewise, if you use at-home treatments successfully, but the mites come back, bring your dog to the veterinarian. 

It’s important to treat and then prevent ear mites, fleas and ticks. Keep reading for more information on all of these issues.

Please share with other dog-lovers like you!

7 Ugly Truths About Lyme Disease in Dogs

Did you know that a vaccination against Lyme disease in dogs is no guarantee that they won’t contract the illness?  Even so, it’s important to take every precaution available to help prevent dogs from contracting the disease.

Lyme disease doesn’t go away. Your dog can be treated for active symptoms, but the disease remains in the body for the lifetime of the dog. It’s no different if you or I were infected.

1. Vaccinations Are No Guarantee Against Lyme Disease in Dogs

It’s still important to have your dog vaccinated, and here’s why:

  • Lyme Disease is a common tick-borne disease worldwide.
  • The most common clinical effect of Lyme disease in dogs is inflammation of the joints.
  • Dogs may also suffer from lack of appetite and depression.
  • In some cases, Lyme disease causes damage to the kidneys.
  • Rarely, the disease will progress to the heart and/or nervous system.

2. Not All Ticks Carry Lyme Disease

  • The ticks that carry Lyme disease are the ones that transmit the bacteria known as

    Borrelia burgdorferi.

  • This microorganism is from the Spirochete family and resembles spiral-shaped worms. The only ticks known to carry this bacterium are the Eastern Black-Legged Tick (some call them Deer ticks), and the Western Black-Legged Tick.

    3. Lyme Disease has a Complicated Relationship With  Dogs

  • Lyme Disease in dogs is a complicated situation in which many variables can take place.
  • Veterinarians feel that treating a dog as close to the time of infection as possible reduces the antibodies faster.
  • Lyme Disease doesn’t really ever go away, even with repeated antibiotics.
  • As with people, antibiotics work best when administered less than 48 hours after the bite.
  • Dogs who test positive, but who show no symptoms, are still treated with antibiotics to reduce the antibodies and minimize long-term clinical complications.

4. It’s Rare for a Dog to Die From Lyme Disease

This one surprised me. I always thought the diagnosis of Lyme disease in dogs was a death sentence, but research shows that is not true.

The prognosis is compromised if the bacterium damage the kidneys.  Regardless, your dog is still left with a permanent, painful disease that requires care and the possibility of repeated doses of antibiotics as flare-ups occur.

I suspect most veterinarians would prefer not to extend antibiotic use for fear of antibiotic resistance and further weakening of the dog’s immune system.

5. I Don’t Want to Go Outside Anymore!

I’ve felt like that myself; however, there are lots of things you can do to prevent tick bites from happening.

  • I use a monthly oral medication for my dogs and it works extremely well. The medication is absorbed into the dog’s fatty tissue (especially around the upper body and neck where ticks are most likely to bite). It’s safe for the dogs but fatal for the ticks.
  • Don’t let your dog romp through tall grass and keep your lawn mowed as short as possible.
  • Remember to also treat any cats in your house with topical tick treatments. Outside cats are the worst offenders because they carry ticks into the home, then flick them off with their rough tongues.
  • Check your pets regularly for ticks by combing through the fur. Personally, I take my fingers and run them all around the dogs’ ears neck and back. I check their armpits, groin, and top of the head.

6. Ticks Are Gross And I Don’t Want to Pick Them Off of My Dog!

They are really disgusting creatures and I don’t blame you. But for the sake of your dog, you have to.

Find out how I handled my first experience with ticks here.

  • Use tweezers
  • Grasp the tick as close to the dog’s skin as possible
  • Pull up and at a slight angle
  • It’s thought that if you pinch the tick’s abdomen to pull it out, the tick will release more toxins into the dog’s body.

As YUCK as it is, this requires attention. You can’t close your eyes and give it a yank because you could leave the head of the tick embedded in your dog, leaving it open to infection.

7. Check Yourself For Ticks

It’s important to check your clothes and your skin as soon as you enter the house. I’ve had ticks on my ankles just from taking a walk down the street where long grass lines the ditch. Obviously, if you live in a city, this isn’t going to be the case (hopefully!).


  • AT THE DOOR: Remove your hat, jacket, and socks.  Pull your socks inside out and scan for anything crawling. Look on the top and insides of your cap/hat. Lift the tongue of your shoes and look inside and around the shoe opening for ticks.
  • IN THE BATHROOM: Strip down completely. Ticks like to make their way to where there is the most blood flow. Check the back of your knees, buttocks, back, armpits, neck and hair.  Also check behind your ears.


To sum it all up, it’s only the Eastern black-legged tick and the Western black-legged tick that carries the bacterium that causes Lyme Disease.

Remember: Lyme Disease is the most prevalent, but it’s not the only disease carried by ticks.

As mentioned above, clinical signs of Lyme disease in dogs includes painful joints, stiff back and/or gait, lack of appetite and depression.

Ticks need to be removed from your pet ASAP. Have your dog vaccinated and tested for Lyme disease, especially if you live in an area where the tick population is endemic.


And finally, the best place to get advice on the best preventative tick treatments for your dog is at the veterinarian’s office.





Remove Ticks from Dogs FAST

There’s only one right way of removing ticks from dogs and several wrong ways. I’m going to tell you how to do it the right way, but first I want to tell you a quick story about how I overcame my tick phobia.

The fiasco began last spring after letting my dogs roam the forest around my summer camp.   I wasn’t worried…the property is well-fenced and they always come when they’re called.

THIS TIME, they came back with guests. That’s right. Hundreds of ticks.  No exaggeration.


A Bottle of Wine Isn’t Necessary for Removing Ticks From Dogs.

For the record, I’d like to say I did remove the ticks correctly using tweezers and a firm grip close to the mouth part of the tick.  Armed with a bottle of Merlot and a barbecue torch, I set to work. It took hours.

I’d also like to mention that I didn’t use the barbecue torch around my dog. The torch is used to kill the ticks after removal.

Hopefully your experience isn’t nearly so traumatizing.



  1. Use fine-tipped tweezers or special gadgets available at pet stores or the veterinarian’s office. Some veterinarians provide free tick-removal devices.
  2. Grasp the tick as close to the dog’s skin as possible, next to the tick’s mouth.
  3. Pull in a quick, clean motion without twisting your wrist.
  4. Afterwards, wipe the area with a sterilized swab to reduce the chance of infection.

Prevention Is Key

The tick population in North America and other parts of the world is on the rise. Only deer ticks (black-legged ticks) carry the dreaded Lyme disease, but all ticks can transmit any number of diseases that you want to avoid.

If you live in an area where the tick population is endemic, make sure to use a topical or oral tick prevention medicine. Ask your veterinarian for the best ones and make sure your pet is in good health before administering the medication.

Tell the veterinarian about any over-the-counter medications you are, or have been, giving your dog.  Some of the prescriptions the veterinarian might prescribe are formulated to treat fleas and worms as well and you don’t want to double-up on those treatments.


Health-care professionals suggest wearing long socks over your pant legs to avoid allowing ticks to attach to your leg. Of course, dogs don’t wear socks so that’s not an option. The best way is to avoid tall grassy areas when ticks are most prevalent in the spring and again in the fall in some places.
The following is a map of tick populations in the United States
Image result for tick map usa
And here is a tick map for Canada


Image result for tick map canada

No matter how many times someone tells you to smother the tick, or touch a flame to the tick’s back, don’t do it. These are myths that could seriously harm your dog. The best way to remove ticks from your dog is the simplest: Pull it out with tweezers being careful to leave the head intact.

IF THE HEAD IS NOT INTACT WHEN YOU REMOVE THE TICK FROM YOUR DOG don’t panic.  You should try to pluck it out with the tweezers. If it’s embedded deeply, the veterinarian might need to remove it.


Don’t forget to sterilize the spot with an alcohol swab. 

And finally, have your dog tested for Lyme Disease. If your dog doesn’t test positive, ask the veterinarian about a vaccination.

Good luck!